IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask Review

SCUBA diving mask for long sighted vision

I finally bit the bullet and admitted that I now needed help in reading my SCUBA diving computer, compass and contents gauge!   Being closer to my pension age than my birth date I was getting long sighted, or suffering from presbyopia and needed a SCUBA mask for long sight.  Distance vision is no problem at all – but reading small print especially in darker environments was becoming an issue without some form of vision correction so a solution was required.  Obvious choices were “tailor made” prescription multi focal  lenses for my diving mask, stick in correction lenses, or  perhaps wearing multi focal disposable contact lenses.  However, the IST Gauge Reader mask popped up on an on line store flyer from simplyscuba.com ,  and  seemed to offer a solution for my long sight at a competitive price so I thought I’d give it a go..

IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask

IST Gauge Reader Scuba Mask
IST Gauge Reader Scuba Mask

The mask was delivered in a standard plastic storage case, along with a standard warning that it could not be exchanged if you had treated it with demister solution / done the cigarette lighter trick / stuck in the dish washer / whatever your preferred manner of anti fogging treatment.

The IST Gauge Reader mask is a pretty normal looking twin lens SCUBA diving mask with the addition of vision correction for long sighted divers at the bottom of each lens to make reading your gauges and computer easier.  It has a pretty standard twin skirt to seal it, along with the usual adjustable side straps and a good sized nose pocket.  It  does have a clear surround unlike my old Oceanic Shadow which was all black – but having dived with it a few times I kind of now prefer the clear sides (it is also available as all black or clear with a blue trim).

img_20160915_110218

It’s what I’d call a medium displacement dive mask – certainly more of a blow to clear than some but nothing outrageous at all.  One thing which did taking getting used to was that sometimes if you need to let a dribble of water enter the mask to clear any slight fogging or a dried salt mark, then with a frameless mask you can simply sluice it side to side.  With this, as the nose pocket forms two distiimg_20160915_110157nct sides that is a little harder, but certainly not a deal breaker, especially if you are used to this style of mask anyway.

Fit is not as good initially as my old mask, but in all honesty I do have quite pronounced grooves at the side of my beak and the Oceanic Shadow is arguably one of the most accommodating and forgiving dive masks ever, so I couldn’t really grizzle too much.  I do find I need to “iron” or smooth out my cheeks a little when fitting it, but once on and in the right place everything’s fine, and I fully expect with more use I’ll get the knack of getting it on in one.

Picture of Oceanic Shadow SCUBA Mask
Oceanic Shadow SCUBA Mask
Picture of IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask with vision correction for long sight.
IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask

How do gauge reader masks work?

There are two panes at the bottom of each side set at approx. 50 degrees which are  +1.75 dioptre lens which give it the gauge reader attribute and makes the mask work for long sight.  If you’ve ever tried bifocals, or multifocal glasses then that’s exactly the way these work.  You simply “look down” to use the magnifying section to read your dive computer or pressure gauge, and straight ahead or up to see through the uncorrected part.

While diving the bottom parts for me are pretty unobtrusive and don’t intrude into my normal field of vision when generally looking around.  I found the first few times I needed to make a conscious effort at first to “look down” to get the magnification boost when I checked my gauges, but very quickly got the hang of it.  When looking ahead I didn’t notice the lenses at the bottom at all.

What does it actually look like for real?

Difficult one to answer, as you “look down” to use them and any photo taken will be definition not be doing that.  The following images show the mask held up against a newspaper so you can judge how much vision correction the lenses give, but please note the focusing on the phone camera didn’t want to play fair so these images are a best shot at giving some kind of indication of how much extra magnification you get.

IST Gauge Reader Dive Mask – Close Up

img_20160915_105226
img_20160915_105413
img_20160915_105341

These next few pictures attempt to show the effect of the lens again against print, but with the phone camera held at the back of the mask (i.e. around where your eyes would be anyway) and the newspaper around arm’s length (i.e. around where your computer would be).  Not the best shots – as the phones auto focus was hunting between the glass of the mask and the paper – but hopefully they will give you some kind of an idea of the magnification.

IST Gauge Reader Scuba Mask – arms length shots

img_20160930_135954
img_20160930_135652
img_20160930_135814
img_20160930_135626

Will the IST Gauge Reader be strong enough for me?

The standard correction is +1.75 each side.  Don’t forget you also get a 25% increase in magnification anyway due to the differences in refraction / air gap with any mask, so this could well be enough for you.

For use in restaurants reading bills I find a pair of +2 “ready readers” work OK for me.  As regards prescriptions, if it means anything to you my last test was:
Far Right Sph: +0.25  Cil: -01.00 95 deg   Add 2.00
Far Left Sph:   +0.00  Cil: -0.50 110 deg     Add 2.00

Near Right Sph: +02.25  Cil: -01.00 95 deg
Near Left Sph:   +02.00  Cil: -00.50 110 deg

Summary

Am I happy with the IST Gauge Reader?  Yes – and will be getting one for Mrs. B as well.

Would I recommend it?  Yes.  While not a perfect tailor made solution, if you only need a relatively small amount of correction these do a pretty decent job of it and are well worth a go.