The exhilaration of an intense workout, the satisfaction of pushing one’s limits, and the well-being post-exercise make fitness an integral part of many lives. Yet, for those who wear contact lenses, the pursuit of physical fitness can sometimes come with an irritating downside: dry eyes. Dry eyes can be a nuisance, potentially hindering an individual’s ability to perform at their peak. However, with the right knowledge and care, it’s possible to keep one’s eyes hydrated and comfortable. Here are some essential hydration tips for all the fitness enthusiasts who wear contacts.
1. Opt For Silicone Hydrogel Lenses
Not all contact lenses are made equal. Brands like Air Optix, Bausch + Lomb Ultra, and Biofinity contacts have popularized silicone hydrogel lenses that allow more oxygen to pass through to the cornea than traditional lenses. This design helps maintain natural moisture levels in the eyes. If dry eyes are a recurrent problem during workouts, it might be worth discussing a switch to silicone hydrogel lenses, such as those offered by these brands, with your optometrist.
2. Understand The Culprit: Sweat
When you engage in physical activities, sweating is inevitable. Sweat dripping into the eyes can increase salt concentration around the contacts, leading to a dehydrated feeling. It’s essential to wear a sweatband or wipe away sweat regularly to keep it from affecting your eyes.
3. Stay Hydrated Internally
While it might sound obvious, drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise is crucial. Adequate hydration helps maintain the fluid balance in the body, including the eyes, reducing the risk of dryness.
4. Use Lubricating Eye Drops
Consider using lubricating eye drops approved for contact lenses. These can be applied before or after workouts to alleviate symptoms of dryness. Always ensure the drops are compatible with contact lenses and refrain from overusing them without consultation from an eye care professional.
5. Beware Of Air-Conditioned And Heated Environments
Indoor fitness centers often have air conditioning or heating, which can reduce humidity levels, leading to drier air. This can exacerbate eye dryness for contact lens wearers. When working out indoors, try to take breaks, blink often, and consider wearing moisture-retaining goggles if feasible.
6. Mind The Chlorine
Swimming is a fantastic full-body workout, but chlorinated pools can be harsh on the eyes. If you swim with contacts, ensure you wear tight-fitting, watertight goggles. After swimming, rinse your eyes with fresh water and consider replacing your lenses with a fresh pair if they’re daily disposables.
7. Maintain Lens Cleanliness
A clean lens is less likely to exacerbate dryness. Ensure you clean and disinfect your contact lenses thoroughly after each use, especially after workouts. This not only reduces the risk of dry eyes but also minimizes potential infections.
8. Limit Workout Duration With Contacts
If you’re planning an extended workout session, consider splitting it into shorter periods with breaks in between to rest your eyes. Removing contacts, resting your eyes for a few minutes, and then re-inserting them can alleviate some of the dryness symptoms.
9. Adjust Your Contact Lens Wearing Schedule
If you know your workout is scheduled for a particular time of the day, try to insert your contacts just before the session and remove them afterward. This minimizes the total duration they’re worn, reducing the cumulative effect of dryness throughout the day.
10. Consult With Your Optometrist
If you consistently face issues with dry eyes during workouts, it’s essential to consult with your optometrist. They can provide personalized advice, recommend specific lens types or brands, and offer solutions tailored to your eye health needs.
11. Avoid Direct Exposure To Fans Or Wind
If you’re working out in a space with fans or open windows, be cautious. Direct air blowing onto the eyes can accelerate tear evaporation, leading to dry eyes. Whenever possible, adjust your position so that the airflow is not directly hitting your eyes. For those who enjoy outdoor activities like cycling or running, consider wearing wraparound sunglasses to shield the eyes from wind and reduce the drying effect.
12. Nutrition Matters
Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish like salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have been shown to help improve the tear film’s lipid layer, which can potentially reduce dry eye symptoms. Ensure your diet has a good balance of these essential fatty acids. Additionally, foods rich in vitamin A, like carrots and sweet potatoes, can also promote healthier eyes and potentially mitigate dryness.
Staying fit shouldn’t come at the expense of comfort, especially when it pertains to something as vital as our vision. By understanding the factors that contribute to dry eyes during workouts and implementing the hydration tips outlined above, fitness enthusiasts who wear contacts can continue to pursue their passion without discomfort. After all, clear, comfortable vision can make the difference between a good workout and a great one.