College Athletes: Protect And Improve Your Vision With These 3 Tips

Whether you're playing for fun or looking for a shot at the pros, college athletics can be very important in your life, and they have the potential to affect you for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, if your vision is damaged during the time that you play sports for your college, that damage could have a negative effect on the rest of your life. As an athlete, you're at more risk for injury to your eyes and vision than most people. Take a look at some tips that can help you stay safe and even improve your vision while you play.

Wear Eye Protection

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Chances are that you've heard that sentence, or something like it, before – maybe as a child playing with sticks or other sharp objects. However, you may be at more risk of losing an eye, or at least the use of an eye, while you play sports. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 40,000 people suffer eye injuries while playing sports every year. Depending on the injury, you could suffer temporary or permanent vision problems, and you may be at greater risk of developing glaucoma than someone who hasn't had an eye injury.

The good news is that eye injuries are often completely preventable simply by wearing protective eyewear. League and school regulations don't always athletes to wear eye protection, but even if it isn't required, it's smart for you to wear protective eye wear anyway. Choose polycarbonate lenses for the highest level of protection against impact. Ordinary eyeglasses or sunglasses do not provide adequate protection against an eye injury and can actually exacerbate an injury if the lenses shatter on impact, so don't rely on them – when playing sports, use only eyewear specifically designed to protect the eyes during sports.

Use Sun Protection

You probably already know to wear sunscreen when you're participating in outdoor sports. The UV rays from the sun put you at risk of sunburns and skin cancer. However, you may not realize that your eyes are just as vulnerable. You can develop cataracts, growths, or even cancer in the eyes because of overexposure to UV rays. And if you compete in snowy conditions, the reflection of the sun on the snow can lead to a disorder called snow blindness, a painful condition that causes blurry and watering eyes and swelling.

The best way to protect your eyes from the sun is to make sure that your protective eyewear also includes UV protection. However, if that's not possible for some reason, you should at least wear a hat or visor while you're competing. This will block some of the glare and prevent the sun from damaging your eyes.

Eat For Eye Enhancement

The better your vision, the more effective an athlete you'll be. You need sharp vision to aim, to catch, and to spot objects or people coming toward you from a distance. That means that it may not be enough just to protect your vision from hazards – you may want to try to improve your performance by enhancing your vision as well. Proper nutrition can go a long way toward improving your vision and by extension, your athletic performance.

Two nutrients, zeaxanthin and lutein, are particularly helpful in improving visions for athletes. These nutrients enhance your ability to withstand glare and recover from exposure to bright lights, and they also improve your contrast sensitivity – the ability to make out fine details. You can find these nutrients in green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, and in yellow or orange vegetables, like corn and carrots. Fruits like oranges and papayas are also good sources of zeaxanthin and lutein. If you have trouble getting enough of these nutrients into your diet, you can also find them in supplement form.

Taking care of your eyes can help ensure that you have a successful career as a student athlete, and may also help you if you plan on playing sports past the college level. Take the time to schedule regular eye exams as well, and talk to the optometrist about what else you can be doing to protect your eyes and improve your vision.