Why Do You Need Goggles to See Underwater?

use of goggles to see underwater

Abhinav Chandra
3 min readOct 10, 2020

We’ve invented contact lenses and laser technology to perfect our eyes on the land, but underwater, we are still stuck wearing dorky goggles. what is it that makes it difficult to see inside the water? let’s Trying to understand this.

Our eyes work by bending light, due to which our brain makes an image, this process equally on both land and water surface. The human eye has evolved to work perfectly on the ground. If we remember the days of science then it will remember how complex the human eye is…

Anatomy of the Eye

The three main parts of the human eyes that help to clearly see any object.

  • Cornea the lens, which bends and focuses the light to form an image. The cornea and lens in the eye act as the camera lens. The cornea contributes 60–75 percent of the total concentrated power of our eyes. The human cornea is highly circular in comparison to other organisms.
  • Retina, which sends that image to the brain, the retina is similar to the film. If the image is not focused properly, the film (or retina) receives a blurry picture.

Cornea and lenses work independently on the ground due to which our brain creates a collective image, but it is not capable of working in the same way as dive time into the water which means that the presence of instability in water affected the cornea to focus is.

So how animals see in the water?

The animal which spends its entire life underwater, its visual system is different from our visual system. For example, the eyes of fish only rely solely on their own lenses, But the human lens is biconvex (curved on both sides, like the lens of a telescope), the fish lens is spherical, which helps to bend better under the light water because they do not trust the cornea. Many organisms can be seen below water and above, the seals and the penguins have relatively flat cornea which can see more easily underwater as compare to us.

There are documented groups of people who can see underwater better than most, however, there are people like “Thai Moken” which are known as the “Sea Nomads,” which have been lived in the form of a sea culture for thousands of years and they have developed the ability to see underwater. A 2003 study of Thai Moken children suggested they achieved this feat by shrinking their pupils to an extreme degree.

Is there a way to see clearly underwater without goggles?

Yeah, you can. And have. Even in saltwater (though that stings a bit). Pool water, especially heavily chemically treated swimming pool water, also isn’t something I love to do, though I have often opened my eyes underwater at the swimming pool, and I can see reasonably fine (slightly out of focus due to different medium density from the air, but I can see more than well enough to do almost anything I need to do). I definitely wearing prefer a dive mask if I’m going to look at things underwater.

So, yeah you can crystal clear underwater without goggles, just following these methods

1. Just open your eyes… if that meets your definition of clear, then okay.

2. Use a dive mask.

3. Use a viewing box/bucket/device such as one of these: DIY underwater viewing bucket.

4. Go to an aquarium, and look in the glass sidewall into the underwater area of the tank.

5. Get into a tourist submarine/recreational submarine/research submarine (or submersible) with viewing ports, and look out for viewing ports underwater.

6. Get into a military submarine without viewing ports… but with a periscope (or viewing camera on retractable sensor mast) and then look out of the periscope while the submarine is below periscope depth (so the top of the periscope will be underwater).

7. Go to somewhere with some sort of underwater structure with clear walls or portholes you can see through.