Sight is something athletes need in order to compete at a high level. However, the importance of our sight for sports is often forgotten and not thought of as important as bodily training. We need our sight in order to catch a fly ball, see a hole to run through, kick a ball into the upright or make a pass to an open defender for a dunk. All of these skills can be enhanced with better vision through training. The eyes are just like any other muscle - if not worked out regularly, they become weak and inadequate. This article will list and give different methods of taking care of the eyes through nutrition, exercise and massage.
Antioxidants are important to maintain eye health and fight off free radicals that can damage the eyes. Free radicals can arrive in the body in many different ways such as through excessive exposure to toxins in the air, water and food, smoking, diabetes, injury, steroids and a nutritionally deficient diet. These factors in turn create free radicals that can damage the delicate lens of each eye. Aging also causes free radicals to enter the body and damage organs and tissue more extensively because less antioxidants are being produced. This is why proper eating, a nutritionally dense diet and a consistent workout program come into play. Essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants from nutrient dense food and supplements can protect every portion of the eye from free radicals. Research also shows that antioxidants can reduce the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye diseases. Specific antioxidants have additional benefits; Vitamin A protects against blindness, and Vitamin C plays a role in preventing or getting rid of glaucoma. Essential fatty acids are shown to aid eye health in many ways, from alleviating dry eyes to protecting against macular damage.
Bilberry should also be added to the diet to maintain proper eye health. It is rich in anthocyanosides, which support and protect collagen structures in the blood vessels of both eyes. This assures strong, healthy capillaries that carry vital nutrients to the muscles and nerves of the eyes. This herb is also high in Vitamin A and C, which provides important defenses in battle against free radicals that can damage the eyes. Vitamin A is required for sharp vision, and Vitamin C provides collagen formation, which aids in the growth and repair of tissue cells and blood vessels. It has long been a remedy that helps with poor vision and "night blindness." Clinical tests confirm that, if given orally, it will improve visual accuracy in people that are healthy and aid in helping people with eye diseases such as pigmentosa, retinitis, glaucoma and myopia. Bilberry works to improve the microcirculation and regeneration of retinal purple, the main substance required for exceptional eyesight.
The foods listed below will ensure that a person obtains plenty of eye-protecting nutrients:
- Vitamin A: steak, cod liver oil, carrots, sweet potatoes, liver, butternut squash
- Bioflavanoids: cherries, plums, grapes, citrus fruits
- Vitamin E: almonds, sunflower seeds
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: collard greens, broccoli, kale, spinach and carrots
- Zinc: oysters, nuts, steak, wheat
- Vitamin C: sweet peppers, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, kale, cantaloupe
- Fatty acids: salmon, mackerel, trout, mahi mahi
Throughout the course of the week, make sure to eat plenty of green leafy vegetables as well as nuts. Make sure to eat at least two servings of fish along with the normal daily intake of fruit. Supplementation is also another way of obtaining the nutrients needed to provide optimal eye health; however, do not use supplements as your main form of nutritional intake. Find a balance between whole foods and supplementation. One last thing is try to purchase foods that are organic or certified organic. This ensures the fruits and vegetables were grown in nutrient dense land and no pesticides were used. For meats, this means there were no hormones or any other genetically altering methods used.
If eyestrain occurs, start rubbing your temples gently. This will rid you of the tension and will stop a lot of headaches. Another area to massage on the face is the forehead. With your fingertips, gently rub in a circular motion for up to 10 minutes. Rub at the top of the eyebrow with the index finger starting in the middle of the forehead and work your way out. Repeat this motion 10 times to start and increase as the tissue softens on a daily basis. Right below the eye, rub on the soft tissue again with the index finger. Start near the nose and rub outwards. This area might be extremely tender for some people but will decrease as the days pass. To start off, do this 10 times and increase gradually so the tissue softens and becomes pliable again.
Doing these massages on a daily basis will increase blood flow to the eyes and help to enhance vision. The continual use of these exercises will also relax the muscles in the head and face and relieve stress.
Drop of Honey
This may sound silly, but it really helps to clear vision and to clean from the eyes the protein buildup and impurities caused by bad air and contact use. Since the Egyptian time period, honey has been an effective remedy for many eye diseases. Do this treatment about once per day in the morning and once before going to bed in the evening. To really see and feel a difference in each eye, the process takes seven to 10 days. Take a bottle of organic honey and drop one to two drops in each eye. If you wear contacts, make sure to remove them before you start. When you put the drops in your eyes, it will sting and burn so make sure you do not rub them. The drops act as a natural hydrogen peroxide eyewash, and the burning sensation is the peroxide from the honey. Let your eyes tear up for about 30 second, then rinse them out with cold water.
This remedy is also a wonderful way to cure eye inflammation. When the honey is in the eye, it stimulates the oxygen that surrounds the eye and promotes the natural healing process. There is nothing in the honey that will hurt or damage the eyes. Unfortunately, in this day and age, honey has lost its importance as a highly effective treatment for vision and eye diseases. Honey also increases the rate of circulation and speeds up the rate of slow healing sores. Sores that could be on the corneal membrane can be cured with honey. I have tried it first hand, and the feeling is wonderful and refreshing. It feels like a deep cleansing bath for the eyes.
Perform each exercise with a single set of 10 and increase weekly until you can get to a point where you do the exercise consecutively for three minutes. These exercises will enhance the following:
- Clear sight - the ability to focus and see the details to increase the skill of pinpointing position, speed and direction.
- Big sight and deep sight - the ability to see big enough and deep enough to take in all the contours and enhance peripheral and depth perception.
- Strong sight - affects eye muscle coordination.
- Quick sight - the ability to focus and react quickly.
- Smart sight - the ability to visualize the moves and success.
- Sports sight - refers to a complete athlete that uses all the visual fitness muscles for his sport.
Look side to side as far as you can and try to pick something to look at during the exercise. Next look up and down. Then go diagonal from right to left and then left to right. Now start eye circles, performing them going clockwise and then counter clockwise. These exercises will take a bit to get used to because the eyes are not thought of as muscles that should be trained efficiently and continuously like the rest of the body. They are tough, but over time, doing three minutes consecutively on each exercise will be a piece of cake. Finally, do the focus drill. Take a 3x5 card, write a word on it and hold it out in front of you. Then, set up another word a specific distance away. Start by looking at the word on the 3x5 card first and then shift to the word in the distance. The goal of this drill is to focus your eyes as quickly as possible. Do this drill 10 times to start and increase repetitions as your eyes get stronger. This exercise helps the athlete focus on an object or person that is moving at a high rate of speed with efficiency and quickness. The faster the eyes can focus, the more effective an athlete can be at his sport.
Two other great forms of exercise for the eyes are reading and playing ping pong: reading for eye strength and ping pong for hand eye coordination and strength. Reading helps with focusing on an object for an extended amount of time and enhances strong sight vision. Although no head movement takes place while reading, the focusing of the eyes on each word and letter is important. The more reading that is done, the less likely the eye will become fatigued. Ping-pong is great for hand eye coordination because of the constant moving of the head and body focuses on the speed of the ball and the projected rotation the ball will take when it hits the paddle and table. This causes the athlete's vision to become intense and intentional, and strong sight vision is enhanced. Strong sight vision increases coordination on two levels: one for near seeing and one for midrange seeing. Near seeing vision applies more for reading but is still essential. Coordination for midrange and far seeing is more for sports performance. An athlete with poor midrange and far seeing will fatigue and loose concentration later in the game. Ping-pong in turn will help with concentration and decrease eye fatigue during an athlete’s sport.
All of these exercises benefit the athlete in regards to hand eye coordination, increasing the focus of the eyes and increasing the amount of time the eyes can stay focused. Overall eye enhancement and vision drills also improve ball tracking, catching and fielding as well as field vision because peripheral vision is enhanced. Vision enhancement exercises will help by allowing the athlete to see an opponent or track a ball with better accuracy and quickness, overall improving performance during the required sport.
- Body Reflexology. Carter, Mildred, Weber, Tammy. West Nyack, N.Y.: Parker, c1994
- Visual Fitness. Dr. David Cook. New York, N.Y.: Berkley, c2004