Ultraclear vs Arc glass in Diving Masks : What’s The Difference & Which Is Better?

Ultraclear vs arc glass in diving masks

When it comes to scuba diving, having a clear and unobstructed view of the underwater world is essential. And one of the most important pieces of gear that can affect your visibility is the diving mask. But not all masks are created equal, and there are two main types of glass that can make a difference: Ultraclear and Arc.

Ultraclear glass is a type of tempered glass that has a low iron content, which makes it more transparent and less green than regular glass. Arc glass, on the other hand, is a type of curved glass that is designed to provide a wider field of vision and reduce distortion. But which one is better, and what are the pros and cons of each?

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between Ultraclear and Arc glass in diving masks, and help you decide which one is right for you. We’ll look at the science behind each type of glass, the benefits they offer, and the potential drawbacks. We’ll also provide some examples and interesting facts, such as the history of tempered glass and the impact of curvature on underwater vision.

But before we dive into the details, let’s explore why the type of glass in a diving mask matters and what makes it such an important factor to consider. Did you know that the quality and clarity of the glass can affect your perception of colors, shapes, and distances underwater?

Or that distortion and glare can cause eye strain and fatigue, and even affect your safety and navigation? And have you ever considered how the type of glass can impact your diving experience, from the beauty of the scenery to the comfort of your mask?

So, are you ready to see the underwater world in a whole new light and choose the best glass for your diving mask? Let’s explore the differences between Ultraclear and Arc glass and help you make an informed decision. After all, a clear view is a happy view!

Choosing an arc glass dive mask

Choosing an arc glass dive mask

Diving is a very wonderful experience given the right location and equipment.  Using ordinary gear can result in colors looking a bit washed out especially when you dive deeper. Water can absorb light very quickly and that can leave predominantly blue wavelengths during deeper dives.

To make sure that you can see well and appreciate the colors around you, a gadget that can let you see through the light is what you need. For some divers, higher visual acuity and fewer back glares are important. This is the reason why most of them choose arc-tempered glass masks.

If the dives required are to be done at night, or the situation calls for a dive in a low-visibility condition, then glass lenses with an ARC will endure that no precious light available is wasted. Aside from this, high-quality lenses eliminate back-glare or ghost reflections as you near the surface, giving you a tempered glass that can be seemingly “invisible”.

Choosing from the core lineup of ARC masks from Atomic Aquatics

Choosing from the core lineup of ARC masks from Atomic Aquatics

Your primary concern when choosing should be about the right fit. If you can afford to buy an ARC gear that ensures clarity, make sure that both the budget and the gear fit perfectly. Here are two arc dive mask from the Atomic Aquatics lineup that you can choose from:

  1. Atomic Venom ARC – This offers optimum seal and with Schott Superwhite glass to provide high clarity sight. It is also equipped with an exclusive Atomic Aquatics high-quality lens.
  2. Atomic Subframe ARC masks – These dive masks were built with extreme durability and strength. It also has two window subframe designs and optical high-quality tempered glass.

Meanwhile, you should always consider if the tempered glass product you want to buy is cost-effective or simply just a go because of its design. What’s the point of owning a fancy, expensive-looking glass when it will not seal perfectly? Will you still use it because it looks good on you while you have constant flooding because it’s not sealed enough? The amazing view that you are looking forward to diving in will be impossible.  

Types of Ultra-clear glass masks product available

Types of Ultra-clear glass masks product available

Tempered glass is present in different articles that we use, from car windows down to our dive masks. Manufacturers even came up with brands and named these Ultra Clear and Crystal. This is to signify that these products transmit high levels of light and reduced green tinting. Meanwhile, Atomic Aquatics was the first manufacturer to feature low iron tempered glass which paved the way for UltraClear glass dive masks in the market today. Here are three models in its core lineup:

  1. Venom Mask – This type of ultra-clear mask has an increased field of view due to its low volume profile. This also allows it to be easier to use as less water needs to be displaced when you are starting to get back on the surface.
  2. Subframe Mask – It offers a new standard feature with a wide field of view. It also has a two-windowed mask design with optical quality tempered glass lenses.
  3. Frameless Mask – This one is equipped with a single lens for a wider field of view. It also has a hydrodynamic design with a tempered glass of high clarity.

So, is it the Ultra-clear or the ARC glass dive masks?

So, is it the Ultra-clear or the ARC glass dive masks?

It all depends upon you. How noticeable is the difference between the regular one with a greenish tint, as compared to the visual improvements that the ARC, low–iron glass mask provides depends on your personal preferences as a diver.  Note that your gear preferences matter as you will be the one who will wear the tempered glass gear.  This matters more especially in terms of diving conditions that you might come across with.  Diving in broad daylight versus diving at night and other conditions should be put into consideration. 

Frequently Asked Questions about dive masks with antireflective coating technology and ultraclear masks

Frequently Asked Questions about dive masks with antireflective coating technology and ultraclear masks

Good diving gear should be comfortable, have high-quality lenses, and has a perfect fit. It should provide a great field of view for an enjoyable diving experience. Considering these requirements, finding durable dive gear can be a challenge. However, ultraclear glass dive masks with anti-reflective coating are widely available in the market today.

High-quality dive gear with great glass lenses, anti-reflective coatings, adjustable buckles, durable, safe with atomic aquatics properties can be seen in different dive shops. These masks are equipped with tempered glass and use arc technology. 

What should I look for in a diving mask?

We will try to delve into the inner world of this type of mask so that we can understand its functions and components fully. At the same time, you can be assured that your chosen tempered glass for the gear you picked is indeed the right one for you.

Ideally, the tempered glass used in making dive gears should contain the lowest possible presence of iron. This is to avoid having that greenish tint stain the glass. This usually occurs when low-iron silica is used to manufacture these glass. If this happens, light transmission of the tempered glass can be increased by 90%. The remaining 10% will be reflected back by the tempered glass if you are using a mask with an anti-reflective coating.

Before proceeding to what anti-reflective coating technology is, take note of how light transmission occurs. When light passes straight through from one material to another at a 90 degree angle, this will not bend and can transmit fully.  This shows that the angle of incoming light affects refraction. Depending on the angle, some light will reflect, while others will refract or bend. If the angle is shallow, refraction will be more pronounced, and less light will be transmitted. 

The light transmission will reflect off other mediums instead of refracting at shallow enough angles. This is the reason why we find it hard to see through the glass at certain angles, and why calm oceans that reflect sunset can show really spectacular radiance.

Finding the right fit, tempered glass mask

A tempered glass mask may seem fancy with all its designs and colors. But no matter how good-looking a gear might be when you see it displayed at the dive store if it doesn’t fit your face, then it’s not the right one for you. If it does not have good tempered glass, if it cannot cover your face or vision is compromised, then you will have to think twice about buying it.

Most importantly, it should not be too tight nor too loose. Otherwise this can lead to poor visual conditions. Furthermore, if it is not a perfect fit, safety can also be compromised.

Another way to check if your gear fits you best is by examining the skirt. Take note that all mask skirts use the same material. The only variance is the quality of silicone used in these dive masks. The only way for you to know if these masks would be comfortable on your skin is by trying them on. If it creates a watertight seal that is comfortable on your skin, then you are on the right track with your prospect dive mask.

Meanwhile, some dive masks with tempered glass may hurt your skin as stiff edges can dig in. Surface textures for dive masks are another thing to consider. They should be able to give comfort to your forehead and cheeks.

Choosing the right skirt color for your dive gear

Did you know that choosing the right skirt colors can make a lot of difference in your dive masks? This is because glare can be blocked or airy depth effects can be achieved depending on your dive mask skirt colors. For example, if you choose clear skirt colors for your scuba mask, open-air effects can be experienced.

For black skirts, glare light transmission can be blocked. However, this is not recommended for those who are claustrophobic or those who are scared of enclosed spaces. Meanwhile, rainbow-colored skirts are more of designs and a matter of your personal choice.

What is arc anti-reflective coating technology?

Arc anti-reflective coating or ARC is composed of a multi-layer metal oxide coating. Only a few microns thick, this coating is applied to both sides of the ultra-clear lenses. Doing this will allow more light to enter the eyes for better light conditions. This also lessens the light reflections from both inside and outside lens surfaces.

ARC technology helps you enjoy a clearer and crisper view underwater without color distortion. Objects that you see from a distance while going on a dive will be more defined and accurate thanks to anti-reflective coating innovation.  

It prevents ghost images on the viewing area of the lens and makes you see real images color. It also reduces glare and eyestrain while increasing while contrast and clarity. That is why a dive mask with anti-reflective coatings is a popular choice for underwater photographers due to real color features and ultraclear experience due to high-quality lenses.

ARC is also a popular choice for those who go for night diving since visibility conditions remain ultraclear. Furthermore, dive gear with anti-reflective coatings is chosen widely by those who are going to spots with reduced views or low light conditions.

ARC technology further explained

ARC technology further explained

Even if you have ultraclear glass on your diving gear, the tempered glass will always reflect light. When this happens, some unwanted vision will also be bouncing back on your mask. This can stop you from having a good, ultraclear diving experience.

These effects can cause back-glare and ghost reflections in your vision. When this happens, light affects especially those who are wearing eyeglasses or goggles. This is because the reflections are bounced off the inside surface of the glass. 

This is where ARC comes in. ARC means anti-reflective coatings. This coating contains refractive indices between air and glass that allow most incoming light in the visible spectrum of up to 98% to pass through the glass. 

Using this technology, the contrast, clarity, and high light of the view are greatly improved.  This also means less glare and ghost reflection. Wavelength can affect refraction and it can greatly improve the light transmission further. There are even ARC materials that have graded indices refraction that continuously vary to accommodate the broad range of light wavelengths.

What is tempered glass?

What is tempered glass?

Tempered glass (TG) involves a special chemical treatment similar to that of tempering steel. When tempering happens, the outer part of the glass becomes stronger and creates a more balanced glass body.

The use of tempered glass on all dive gears is an important feature. This is because it enhances safety as well as provides ultraclear views when underwater. In terms of safety and durability, the use of tempered glass on all dive gear is an important feature.

If this is the case then what’s left to improve? This is where the low iron glass comes into the picture. Ultra-clear TG lenses are a new and exciting optical quality tempered glass. It offers a very clear viewing experience when diving underwater with higher light transmission compared to a dive mask with regular lenses.

What is Low Iron Glass?

What is Low Iron Glass?

Most diving gears in the market uses standard tempered glass that’s 1-2 mm thick. It can transmit light of about 84% and has a slight greenish tint. This greenish tint is due to heating silica (silicon dioxide) or sand particles to molten temperature when making glass. Silica sand is tiny quartz granules that typically contain a trace amount of ferric oxide or iron. This iron content is the source of that greenish tint found in standard glasses with coating.

Although standard tempered glass contains more or less 0.1% ferric oxide, the greenish tint that is produced from the iron content can absorb light and reduce its transmission through the glass. To avoid making greenish tint tempered glass, the use of low-iron silica can be an option. This can produce higher clarity and color fidelity glasses. With the ferric content of 0.01%, the end result is a glass capable of 90% light transmittance minus the green tint. 

Can you dive with a full face mask?

Can you dive with a full face mask?

After talking about the differences between an ARC gear and the ultraclear glass mask, let’s discuss if diving with full-covered scuba masks is even possible. This type of diving implement seals the entire front and has a demand valve where constant gas supply flows. It also has a mouthpiece intended for breathing.

This gear has several functions including letting you see clearly underwater, provide you with protection from polluted water and cold. It can even protect you from possible jellyfish stings. So if you are wondering if you can actually dive with this gear on? The answer is YES!

Functions of full-faced diving gears

Functions of full-faced diving gears

Full-faced gear offer more secured breathing compared to a single detached mouthpiece found in regular gears. If an emergency occurs, you will still be able to breathe from it because this is not gripped between your teeth.

However, these types of diving gear are often used by professionals and are seldom used for recreational diving. To know more about this gear here is some information about its functions:


Ironically, the full-faced gear is the last to be worn before the dive. This is because it can be difficult to fit other equipment if you have this on first. You will be needing assistance when wearing your diving gear because the masks with tempered glass can be heavy. Make sure that the straps are not so tight or loosened as it may cause discomfort but adjusting it while on a dive is still possible.

Defogging and surface breathing

Most of these gears do not receive direct airflow which results in fogging. This occurs when condensation happens during the dive. To keep this from happening, you can apply surfactant before diving. Meanwhile, some full-faced gears have a switch function that can change to atmosphere air when resurfacing from a dive. Other types of full-faced gears need their valves to be unplugged when coming out to the surface.

Are full-faced diving gears safe?

Are full-faced diving gears safe

Full-faced diving gears may take a longer time to remove compared to an ARC or ultraclear glass gear. That is why some of these gears have switch options to make breathing from the atmosphere faster and transition easier.

Compared to a half-faced gear, a full-faced gear can provide safer and better security of breathing ample gas supply. Half-faced diving gear products pose risk for divers to fall unconscious underwater. Not all divers will be satisfied with a full-faced gear because shapes, sizes, and even preferences differ from one another. This proves that full-faced gears are not the reason behind dive-related deaths. Take note that there is no evidence that a specific diving gear is dangerous.

To be able to feel safe and at the same time secured, check your gear if it has a one-way breathing system. Also, check if the one-way valves are in their proper places. Finally, check if the gear is a good fit and can seal you safely. If your answer is a yes to all of these, then that is a good indication that your gear is safe to use.

Can you scuba dive with glasses?

Can you scuba dive with glasses

Depending on the diving conditions, slightly blurry eyesight may not cause much trouble. It is an interesting fact that water can actually correct mild eyesight trouble as objects underwater become bigger by a third and can even look closer. However, if your eyesight causes you to be unable to read your diving buddy’s hand signals or submersible pressure gauge reading becomes difficult, then a prescription glass is necessary.

We know that your everyday glasses cannot be used during a dive. This is because your eyeglasses will prevent your gear from having a firm seal which will eventually cause water to get it. It can also cause annoyance and discomfort. Don’t worry because instead of your regular glasses, you can always seek to have prescription lenses for your diving gear.

Diving with Prescription Glasses

Diving with Prescription Glasses

The use of ARC technology is invaluable, especially in the optical department where ultraclear glass is often wanted.  Even prescription lenses apply this to improve the comfort of the wearer and can make a person’s eyes more visible even in flash photographs.

Aside from this, ARCs are required in devices use in astronomy, medical imaging, and photography.  In-camera lenses, with ARC, there can be a colored “shimmer” that results from the visual artifact of the anti-reflective coating.  In optical glasses, ARC-treated glass becomes optical-grade glasses because of the use of ARCs. 

Take note that divers who wear prescription glasses cannot dive with them on because the mask will not seal properly. Eyeglasses are designed with arms to clip over your ears. The silicone skirt of the diving mask cannot seal correctly given this design. The solution is to buy a mask that has prescription lenses. This can be ordered by a scuba diving equipment manufacturer way ahead of your diving schedule.

Take a look at the following for you to better understand which diving mask to choose from a wide variety of options found in the market today.

  1. Purchase your mask at a reputable dive store both in a shop or online. There will be plenty of mask choices so you will have a lot of options from design, color, and even prices. Some stores even offer discounts while others may go on sale. Experienced staff personnel will also be there to assist you with your purchase.
  2. Masks come in different colors, shapes, and designs. Some are oval-shaped which had been a popular choice among divers a long time ago. However, modern masks have emerged with side panels and other dive masks that offer wider viewing. 
  3. Check the material which the mask is made from. Generally, these come with rubber silicone skirts that are black or semi-transparent. Take note that underwater photographers prefer black gears as these have glare reduction ability.
  4. If you are going scuba diving, make sure what you will buy have features that are best suited for your activity. Check if the mask glass is made from tempered glass to ensure safety. It should also have nose pockets which will allow equalizing when you have to pinch your nose or have your eyes cleared of water or moisture. Also, you have to make sure that the nose pocket size is just right. Great dive gears should have adjustable buckles and locks to give you added fit, safety, and comfort. 
  5. Prescription lenses for diving gear are also available. This is helpful if you are wearing contacts or eyeglasses. This will also guarantee that your vision will not be impaired as you take a dive underwater.

You should remember that not all that costs high are of good quality. Some gears can be expensive but they may not have quality features. Some may not even be made from good materials that are suitable for diving.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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