If you work out regularly, you may think about your muscles, heart rate, or step count much more than about your eyes. It’s all too easy to neglect your eyes. But as an athlete or exercise enthusiast, you are facing eye health challenges that regular people don’t have.

Read on to find out what these challenges are and how to keep your eyes healthy. Our eye health tips have you covered.

So, how do you keep your eyes healthy as a fitness enthusiast? 

1. Wear Protective Eyewear

It’s so much easier to prevent an eye injury than to have to treat it. From corneal abrasions and punctured eyeballs to orbital fractures, eye injuries can easily occur during physical activities and sports.

Protective eyewear and other similar gear may seem superfluous when you’re in the middle of training or playing a baseball game. But it can go a long way in preventing eye accidents. When exercising outdoors, choose protective eyewear with UV protection. 

2. Wear Sunglasses Outdoors

Whether you’re jogging, lifting weights, cycling, or playing sports outside, you may get more sun exposure than it’s healthy for your eyes. Your eyes are sensitive to UV radiation, which can damage eye cells. In time, this can lead to macular degeneration.

female runner with sunglasses outdoors during race with male runner in white shirt without sunglasses and people watching them in the background

Sunglasses with UV protection can come in handy. They can also help protect your eyes from wind and dust. Wraparound sunglasses are especially good at this.

3. Wear Goggles If Swimming Is Part of Your Exercise Routine

Swimming can be a wonderful full-body workout. It’s also a great way to cross-train in between other workouts. However, many swimming pools have chlorinated water, regular exposure to which can be bad for your eyes. 

The chlorine and other chemicals in swimming pools can interfere with the tear film that normally lubricates your eyes. It can leave your eyes feeling red and dry. Over time, this can lead to dry eye disease, the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns on their website.

If you wear contact lenses, take them off before swimming. Water in the pool may contain microorganisms that can become trapped behind your contact lenses. This can lead to keratitis and eye infections.

You also want to avoid showering at the gym with your contacts on. But make sure to wash your hands before taking your contacts off, which brings us to the next point.

4. Avoid Touching Your Eyes While Working Out

Whether you’re lifting weights at the gym or engaging in physical activity outdoors, you may touch surfaces that harbor bacteria and other microorganisms. Touching your eyes with your hands while working out can increase the risk of eye infections.

man in white shirt covering his face with his hand, showing only one brown eye

Try not to touch your eyes while you exercise. Also, make it a habit to always wash your hands after working out.

5. Try Some Eye Exercises Too

Eye strengthening exercises won’t improve your vision overnight as some claim. But putting the hype aside, eye exercises like the 20-20-20 rule can be beneficial.

This type of exercise encourages you to take a break and rest your eyes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

You can do it anywhere without any props and it’s totally safe – eye doctors recommend it. Find out more about eye exercises in our post Do Eye Exercises Actually Work? 

6. Get Plenty of Eye Nutrients from Your Diet

Next up on our list of eye care tips is healthy eating. When you work out a lot, you may be focused on increasing your protein intake while reducing calories from fat. The problem with some fitness diets is that they are low in eye health nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. 

round wooden platter with sliced egg, tomatoes, grapefruit, sour cherries and bowl with avocado and other healthy food

Here are some foods you can eat more of for a boost of eye nutrients:

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin – Egg yolk, spinach, kale, broccoli, parsley, kiwis, grapes, orange juice.
  • Antioxidants – Blueberries, bilberries, strawberries, goji berries, red cabbage, artichoke, beetroot, pecan nuts, dark chocolate.
  • Vitamin A – Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, mango.
  • Vitamin C – Oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, cabbage.
  • Vitamin E – Almonds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, collard greens, avocado.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Mackerel, cod liver oil, salmon, herring, sardines.
  • Zinc – Shellfish, chickpeas, beans, lentils, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cheese. 

7. Stay Hydrated

Like other organs in your body, your eyes are mostly water. As an athlete, you run a higher risk of becoming dehydrated than other people. Dehydration can contribute to dry eyes and other eye symptoms. What’s more, dehydration can also reduce your physical performance.

Taking a reusable bottle of water with you at the gym, on your runs, or outdoors is one way to remind yourself to drink more water when you exercise. 

Depending on the intensity of your workouts, you may also want to take in electrolytes. These are essential minerals that can become depleted as you exercise. You can find them in some sports drinks or as a powder supplement you dissolve into water. 

8. Get Enough Sleep and Rest

Getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night is important for your body to recover after the strain of exercise. This is true of your eyes as well. Studies have associated poor sleep with dry eye disease and a higher risk of developing serious eye diseases.

man in orange shirt lying on the grass with hands behind his head resting and relaxing

It’s also during sleep that your muscles can heal and grow after strength training. In short, it doesn’t matter how well you train or diet if you don’t get good quality sleep. 

Rest days are also part of the recovery process, so don’t forget to plan for them the same way you plan for your workouts. 

9. Get an Eye Exam Regularly

Eye conditions can start with mild or vague symptoms that can make them hard to detect until they progress. Dry eye disease is a common example of an eye condition that can go undiagnosed for months, sometimes even years.

Taking a complete eye exam at least every two years can help you safeguard your vision. If you have any existing eye condition or suffer an eye injury, you may need to take an eye exam more often. Discuss this with your doctor to be sure. 

10. Take an Eye Health Supplement

Physical exercise can strain your body. Combine that with a busy schedule, a demanding career, and everyday stress, and you may need more nutrients than you get through your meals. Supplements can help. 

In addition to vitamin mixes and fitness supplements like protein powder, you may want to consider taking an eye health supplement.

SightC is a superfood blend that provides lutein, zeaxanthin, and other antioxidants and nutrients that nourish your eyes and tear glands. Taking it while following a healthy and active lifestyle can help keep your eyes healthy. 

You can also include in your eye care routine Blueberry Monk Fruit Gummies. Made with Canadian blueberries, a rich source of anthocyanins, lutein, and other antioxidants, these gummies are sweetened with monk fruit, a zero-calorie, diabetes-friendly sweetener.

The Wrap Up

As someone who works out regularly, you have to take a bit more care of your eyes than a less active person. Small things like wearing sunglasses and protective eyewear, maintaining eye hygiene, and taking an eye health supplement can go a long way to safeguarding your vision.

The key takeaway is to remember that your eyes are sensitive and that you shouldn’t take them for granted. A bit of care can protect your eyes as you exercise and keep them healthy for years to come.

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