Purpose. To develop a model that will accurately predict the distance spherical lens correction needed to be worn by National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts while training underwater. The replica space suit's helmet contains curved visors that induce refractive power when submersed in water.
Methods. Anterior surface powers and thicknesses were measured for the helmet's protective and inside visors. The impact of each visor on the helmet's refractive power in water was analyzed using thick lens calculations and Zemax optical design software. Using geometrical optics approximations, a model was developed to determine the optimal distance spherical power needed to be worn underwater based on the helmet's total induced spherical power underwater and the astronaut's manifest spectacle plane correction in air. The validity of the model was tested using data from both eyes of 10 astronauts who trained underwater.
Results. The helmet's visors induced a total power of −2.737 D when placed underwater. The required underwater spherical correction (FW) was linearly related to the spectacle plane spherical correction in air (FAir): FW = FAir + 2.356 D. The mean magnitude of the difference between the actual correction worn underwater and the calculated underwater correction was 0.20 ± 0.11 D. The actual and calculated values were highly correlated (r = 0.971) with 70% of eyes having a difference in magnitude of <0.25 D between values.
Conclusions. We devised a model to calculate the spherical spectacle lens correction needed to be worn underwater by National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts. The model accurately predicts the actual values worn underwater and can be applied (more generally) to determine a suitable spectacle lens correction to be worn behind other types of masks when submerged underwater.