How Bodybuilding Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy!

Most of us don't think about our eyes until something goes wrong. It is often the noticeable changes that bring us to the optometrist to get our vision checked. But, we should be aware of our eye health... Learn more.

Article Summary:
  • As we get older, there is more to consider than just a need for glasses.
  • Being keenly aware of your body will help you spot eye problems early.
  • Antioxidants and certain vitamins are neccessary for healthy eyes.
  • Most of us don't think about our eyes until something goes wrong. We may start noticing changes in our vision or our eyes become very dry and scratchy. It is often the noticeable changes that bring us to the optometrist to get our vision checked. But, we should be aware of our eye health and incorporate strategies to prevent eye disease before it starts, even if we have no noticeable changes in our vision or symptoms of eye problems.

    Most Of Us Don't Think About Our Eyes Until Something Goes Wrong.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Most Of Us Don't Think About Our
    Eyes Until Something Goes Wrong.


    What Are Common Eye Diseases And Conditions?

    As we age there are a number of things that can go wrong with our eyes (aside from just having to buy reading glasses and hold newspapers at arms length). Cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinal disorders and dry eyes to name just a few. Cataracts and AMD are the leading causes of visual impairment and acquired blindness in the U.S.


    Cataracts

      Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in your eye. Cataracts develop slowly over time. Some of the symptoms include blurry vision, faded colors, glare, poor night vision and double vision. Risk factors for the development of cataracts include:

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    Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

      AMD affects the macula, the part of your eye responsible for sharp, clear vision needed to read, write, drive and perform other tasks requiring sharp visual acuity. Risk factors associated with AMD include:

      • Smoking.
      • Obesity.
      • Race - this disease affects Caucasians more so than other races.
      • Family history.
      • Gender - women are more at risk then men.


    How Bodybuilding Can Help You Keep Your Eyes Healthy

      Bodybuilding doesn't only help you develop a hot body. It also helps you keep many aspects of your overall health in check, including your eyes:


    Bodybuilders Are Keenly Aware Of Their Body

      Bodybuilders tend to notice even minor changes in their physique (maybe that is the side effect of staring in mirrors often). From slight daily differences in the definition of their abs to hard knots in their traps, bodybuilders know when something isn't quite right and they don't ignore it.

    Bodybuilders Tend To Notice Even Minor Changes In Their Physique.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Bodybuilders Tend To Notice Even
    Minor Changes In Their Physique.

      When you are keenly aware of your body, you'll notice any changes in your eyesight or eye health including pain, inflammation, dry eyes, a burning sensation in your eyes or fluid coming from the eye. And, you'll call a physician right away.


    Bodybuilders Take Care Of Their Health

      This means they get regular checkups. Many eye diseases don't have symptoms and therefore your best defense lies in regular visits to your optometrist.


    Bodybuilders Eat A Healthy Diet

      Bodybuilders load up on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Consuming a good diet rich in antioxidants, vitamin E ( nuts and seeds are the best sources) and zinc may help prevent some eye diseases or delay their onset. Bodybuilders also take the right supplements for those particular nutrients they know they may fall short on.

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      The Age-Related Eye Disease Study from the National Eye Institute found that high dose antioxidant vitamins plus zinc helped reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD by 25% and vision loss by 19% in subjects at high risk for developing advanced AMD and vision loss.

      The supplement used in this study contained 500 mg vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E, 15 mg beta-carotene, 80 mg zinc, and 2 mg copper (added to prevent copper-deficiency anemia resulting from high doses of zinc).

      Two other carotenoids that may decrease your risk of developing or delay the onset of AMD are lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids have also been examined in relationship to cataracts. High amounts of both may reduce the need for cataract surgery and decrease one's risk of developing new cataracts.

    High Amounts Of Lutein And Zeaxanthin May Reduce The Need For Cataract Surgery.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    High Amounts Of Lutein And Zeaxanthin May
    Reduce The Need For Cataract Surgery.

      Dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, turnip greens) are your best bet for lutein and zeaxantin. Other fruits and vegetables contain some of these carotenoids as well.


    Bodybuilders Don't Smoke

      Smoking increases your risk of developing AMD. And, it impairs your breathing and makes you smell bad - neither of which are good for pushing yourself to your physical limits (what spotter can stand there while you exhale stale smoke breath?)


    Bodybuilding Helps You Manage Your Weight

      Experts recommend keeping your weight in check to help prevent AMD. As a bodybuilder, you know if you are overly fat and what to do about it (incorporate HIIT into your training and consider circuit training to burn extra calories).

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    Additional Tips To Help You Keep Your Eyes Healthy

    • Wear good sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays and prevent glare. Talk to your optometrist about specific brands that are best for your eyes. Wearing sunglasses year-round can help you delay or prevent the development of cataracts.
    • Wear hats with wide brims to help block the suns rays and help you delay the development of cataracts.
    • Maintain a normal blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase your risk of developing AMD.


    Conclusion

    It seems as if every older person I know well complains of at least one eye issue (cataracts, AMD, glaucoma). Even if you don't think about your eyes that often, think about bodybuilding - consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and keep training.

    It Seems As If Every Older Person I Know Well Complains Of At Least One Eye Issue.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    It Seems As If Every Older Person I Know
    Well Complains Of At Least One Eye Issue.

    Years down the road you may find that your favorite hobby has also helped you keep your eye health and eyesight by preventing or delaying the onset of AMD and cataracts.

    About The Author:

    Marie Spano is a leading authority on translating the latest nutrition and exercise science research into real life applications. Ms. Spano has also helped Olympic athletes, NFL-bound athletes and Fortune 500 executives enhance their health and performance through sound nutrition practices. She is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com. For more information see: www.mariespano.com.

    References:

    1. Eye Diseases. National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus.
    2. Prevent Blindness America. Vision problems in the U.S. Schaumburg, IL: Prevent Blindness America 1994.
    3. Age-Related Macular Degeneration. National Eye Institute. National Institutes of Health.
    4. Cataracts. National Eye Institute. National Institutes of Health.
    5. Seddon JM, Ajani UA, Sperduto RD et al. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Eye disease case-control study group. JAMA 1994;272(18):1413-20.
    6. Chew EY, Sperduto RD, Milton RC et al. Risk of Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration after Cataract Surgery in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study: AREDS Report 25. Ophthalmology 2009;116 (2): 297-303.
    7. Chasan-Taber L, Wilett WC, Seddon JM et al. A prospective study of caroteniod and vitamin A intakes and risk of cataract extraction in US women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70(4):509-16.
    8. Lyle BJ, Mares-Perlman JA, Klein BE et al. Antioxidant intake and risk of incident age-related nuclear cataracts in the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Am J Epidemiol 1999;149(9):80109.

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    Marie Spano
    Marie Spano, MS, RD, Vice President of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) is a registered dietitian with a MS in Nutrition and BS in Exercise and Sports Science. She consults with professional, recreational and collegiate athletes.
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