Most of us fully appreciate the benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise. From physical to mental and psychological enhancements, it’s hard to name all the reasons everyone should incorporate physical movement into their daily life. But what if you have to wear glasses or contact lenses to see?
Trying to work out with glasses or contacts on can be a real pain, so we will cover some best practices so that you can get your favorite aerobic and anaerobic workouts in without missing a beat.
The Many Benefits of Eye Protection
Regarding your eyes, there’s one crucial reason you have to take really good care of them: you only get two. Without our eyes, we’d struggle to do just about anything else.
That means that if you regularly exercise outdoors, whether you are lucky enough to have a gym set up outside or simply prefer to bike or jog in the fresh air, you’ll benefit from some sort of protection from the sun.
It’s no coincidence that when you see professional marathon runners, cyclists in the Tour de France, Olympic rowers, skiers, or Iron Man competitors on TV, they all wear sunglasses.
The sun emits ultraviolet rays, which over time will harm your eyes. This is why getting a perfect pair of polarized lenses is your best level of protection if you venture outside.
Research has linked UVB rays with cataracts, which, if not treated, can result in total blindness! That doesn’t sound good. Fortunately, cataract surgery is the most common surgery performed in the U.S. and has exceptionally high success rates.
Most of us understand how getting sunburns on our skin is terrible and can lead to higher rates of skin cancers like Melanoma. While your eyes don’t get a sunburn in the same type of way, they do still receive damage over time from these hurtful rays.
You put in the effort the exercise to lead a healthy lifestyle, so don’t neglect one of the most important parts of your body!
If you swim, here is a list of swim goggles that are highly recommended for contact lens wearers. They are tinted for outdoor pools, and there are also options with clear lenses for indoor swimmers. The best part is that they all have super tight seals to keep the dirty pool water out of your eyes!
Performance Reasons for Glasses vs. Contacts
If you regularly wear glasses–if you are nearsighted or farsighted–then you know the struggle if you’re in the gym and have to bend over to rack the weights and your glasses start to slide off. Not fun.
Or perhaps you can relate to trying to do yoga and having to keep your neck craned up during downward dog so that your glasses don’t fall off.
It’s easy to see why you might just opt for not wearing your glasses at all during workouts. But there’s a real benefit to having a perfect vision while exercising.
For one, you know that much of the time, the real gains are made from the quality and not the number of your reps. If you can’t properly see yourself in a mirror or see what the instructor or video is showing, how will you be able to check on your form?
Aside from the basics of exercising properly, it’s also much safer to always see things clearly. What if you are out for a bike ride and you don’t see a hazard in front of you until it’s too late to avoid it?
Did you know that if you have an astigmatism, it can distort lights and distract you? This condition is caused by an irregular shape of your eye and causes light to focus in a way that changes your vision. Thankfully, it’s pretty common, and many glasses and contact lenses are designed to fix this.
It makes a lot of sense that you’ll likely perform better in a wide array of different sports and activities if you can clearly see what you are doing. So now let’s talk about when it makes sense to wear glasses vs. contacts.
When Glasses Are Best
Generally speaking, outdoor aerobic workouts like tennis, jogging, running, golfing, brisk walks, etc., lend themselves well to glasses because of the enhanced protection against the sun.
You should also wear protective goggles for indoor racquet sports like squash and racquetball because of the close proximity to other players, the high velocity of the balls, and the high incidence of eye injuries. It may seem unnecessary most of the time, but just like in cars, you don’t only put on a seatbelt right before an accident. You wear a seat belt all of the time with the hopes you’ll never actually need it.
If you need glasses to see better, getting a pair of prescription sunglasses for these activities will be a worthwhile investment.
When Contacts are Best
On the other hand, anaerobic workouts like sprints, powerlifting, and exercises that require short bursts of energy are all best if you wear your contact lenses instead of glasses. The last thing you need when deadlifting 350lbs is for your glasses to fall under the weights and get crushed.
If you simply just prefer to wear contact lenses because you don’t like the look or feel of glasses, you’ll be happy to hear that many of the top contact lens brands offer UVA and UVB protection from the sun.
They now even make a contact lens which has transitions technology, to get darker in outdoor light so that you get even more protection! And once you are done outdoors and head back inside, they will transition back to transparent.
This is a perfect solution if you like to take that mid-workday jog around the neighborhood before quickly jumping back on a call for work.
Another time when contact lenses are best is when you go swimming. You just have to remember ALWAYS to wear swimming goggles over your contact lenses. As we mentioned earlier, there are tinted and clear swimming goggles for indoor and outdoor settings.
If you wear contact lenses and you get pool water under the lens you are creating the perfect environment for bacterial growth which can lead to a nasty eye infection.
The last thing you want is to be sidelined from your workout routine for a couple of weeks because you are nursing an eye infection or injury.
Eye Protection and Performance Can Go Hand In Hand
By now you can tell that I feel pretty strongly about protecting your eyes, but in truth, ensuring top physical performance is always critical. And making sure that you are comfortable, can see clearly, and aren’t straining to see things all play a key role in your ability to perform at the highest level.
If you are doing an intense workout and have to pause mid-burpee to adjust your workout, you won’t be happy. So take into account which exercises you’ll be doing and wear the appropriate eye protection or contact lenses for your specific needs.
You’ll be glad you did, and your eye doctor will too.