Sports Nutrition for your Eyes

If you are a competitive or recreational athlete, you will perform at your best and recover most quickly when you eat a nutritionally adequate diet, drink enough fluids, are physically fit, and are properly trained.

When it comes to proper nutrition to help you achieve optimal performance, there is no substitute for a well-balanced diet.  However, since most of us don’t get all the nutrients we need from the foods we eat, athletes should consider talking with their health care professional about augmenting their diet with supplements such as high-quality vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that have been shown, through research, to help optimize performance.

Football players celebrating success on the field. Happy footballer sitting on his knees with open arms after scoring a goal being cheered by his teammates.

“Sports nutrition” for athletes requires different amounts of nutrients compared to non-athletes.  And, just as you need to need to replace lost fluids and electrolytes during exercise, eat protein to boost glycogen storage, reduce muscle soreness and promote muscle repair, and eat healthy carbohydrates for energy, athletes also need to consume certain nutrients to sustain optimal visual performance. Vision, just like speed and strength, is a critical component in how well you play any sport.

Vision has been described as the most variable of all the senses that affect sport performance. Because information gathered through vision is thought to dominate over information from other sensory systems, it is recognized as essential to successful performance in almost every sport. 2 So, a proper sports nutrition plan for your eyes should also be an integral part of your training regimen. 

A growing number of studies already demonstrate that a large variety of nutrients can help lower the risk of developing degenerative diseases, including sight-robbing conditions and diseases of the eye, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Recent data have also shown that a number of visual abilities that would be relevant to athletic performance may also be amenable to large improvements simply by focused changes in diet or though supplementation.3

Proper nutrition can have preventive and protective benefits for  your overall well-being‚ as well as improve your vision and eye health. The addition of certain nutritional supplements, when added to a well-balanced diet, can have measurable effects on visual function.  And, when incorporated into a sports vision training program, may lead to improved performance in the sports you play. 

Your eye doctor can offer you advice on proper nutrition to help keep your eyes healthy, protect your vision, and help enhance your sports performance.  Click here for advice on selecting nutritional supplements for eye health.

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  1. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, “Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance: Fact Sheet for Consumers ,”
  2. Van Dyk, “The Effects of a Sports Vision Training Programme on Selected Visual Skills in a Non-fatigued and Fatigued Cardiovascular Condition, 2014.  Accessed July 2019
  3. Hammond B, Fletcher L, Influence of the dietary carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin on visual performance; application to baseball.  Am J Clin Nutr 2012 Nov;96(5):1207S-13S.

This important health information has been made available thanks to an educational grant provided by MacuHealth. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by ISVA.