Eye Health for Runners: What YOU Need to Know
A few posts ago we talked about how bad runners are at wearing sunscreen. There are some out there that say we are better about wearing sunscreen than eye protection. Maybe it is true but I find the opposite is true for me. If it is bright out you better believe I’m going to grab my sunglasses and protect my eyes from the bright sun. Running can be hard on your eyes.
But what about the days that aren’t super sunny out, do we still need protection? Do runners always need to wear some sort of eye protection? Most in the eye care world would probably say yes. This answer is due to prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays and windy conditions that can cause eye strain, dryness, irritation and even long-term damage.
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect your eyes when running. In this blog post we will discuss how you can keep your eyes safe while still enjoying the benefits of a good run!
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Why it is Important to Protect Your Eyes When Running
There are many reasons to wear sunglasses or even clear glasses when out on a run. In fact, medical experts recommend that you wear sunglasses or proper eye protection each time you go out for a run. This is especially true if you are going to be running for long periods of time, as the longer exposure increases the risks of damage to your eyes.
UV Protection for the Eyes When Running
We know how bad sun is for our skin, that’s why we should be slathering sunscreen on before our runs outside. But what about our eyes. If the sun is so bad for our skin, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that our eyes are just as susceptible to damage?
Related Article: Sunscreen for Runners
The majority of UV radiation is absorbed by the cornea, yet sustained exposure eventually allows it to reach and harm sensitive, inner parts of the eye.
Repetitive and prolonged exposure of the eyes to UV radiation can cause runners to develop growths on the clear covering over the white part of the eye called pinguecula and pterygium. This exposure to UV radiation can lead to a variety of other eye problems including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and even cancer of the eye.
Foreign Object Protection for Eyes on the Run
Not only do sunglasses, and regular clear glasses, protect your eyes from the harmful and damaging rays of the sun, they also help keep dust, wind, and other external factors out of your eyes.
Dust, wind and other small particles can enter your eyes when running. This is especially true if you are running in more rural or country areas that may have more debris in the air. Wearing glasses will help keep these pesky particles out of your eyes and reduce irritation or infection.
Improved Visibility When Running
I think one of the key reasons people grab a pair of sunglasses when going out the door is to be able to see better. When it is really bright and sunny out adding on a pair of sunglasses makes a huge difference.
Sunglasses help protect our eyes from glare and the brightness of the sun. This enables us to see more clearly, which can be an extra safety measure when running as well as making the run more comfortable if we don’t have to squint the whole time. Which can also prevent those crow’s feet at the corner of our eyes too!
Steps to Protect Eyes on the Run
1. Wear sunglasses or clear glasses when you run: We know that sunglasses and clear glasses with UV protection are a must for our eyes on the run. Make sure you choose the right type of lenses to make sure your eyes are getting the protection they need.
2. Clean your lenses regularly: It is important to keep your lenses clean, which means washing them regularly with gentle lens cleaning solution. This will help prevent dust, dirt, and other particles from sticking to the lenses and entering your eyes while running.
3. Adjusting the glasses when needed: If you find that your sunglasses or support frames are sliding down your nose while you run, make sure to adjust them so they fit more comfortably and securely on your face.
4.Add a hat or visor: Sunglasses are great to protect our eyes from UV rays, but adding a hat or visor will make a huge difference too. This will help to keep the sun out of our eyes and provide even more protection for our precious peepers.
5. Seek shade when possible: If you are running during peak UV hours, try to run in shaded areas as much as possible to protect your eyes from direct sunlight.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your eyes are fully protected and healthy when running. Don’t forget to add sunglasses and other protective eyewear to your pre-run checklist to make sure your eyes stay safe on the run!
Best Sunglasses for Runners
Sunglasses are pretty person-specific. But there are some brands that are more appropriate for athletes than others.
My personal favorite are Tifosi Optics. The quality is top-notch and the price is just right. You can get standard sunglasses from them or customize them with prescriptions etc.
Another favorite brand of runners is Goodr, I personally don’t have a pair but I have heard great things about them and know that a lot of runners swear by them!
There are many other brands that are great for wearing when on the run. Some of the higher end brands include Oakley, Nike, and Maui Jim.
Final Thoughts on Eye Protection for Runners
In conclusion, protecting your eyes while running is essential to ensure that you are able to stay healthy and injury free. Wearing sunglasses or clear glasses with UV protection can help shield your eyes from harmful rays of the sun as well as keep dust and wind out.
There are many brands of sunglasses available for runners ranging from affordable options like Tifosi Optics or Goodr to higher end designer brands such Oakley, Nike, Maui Jim etc., so finding one that fits both your budget and needs should not be too hard!
So remember to add eyewear on your pre-run checklist whenever you go out for a run!
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All information should be used as a tool for more knowledge on the subject topic, to use as references for later articles where applicable, or just to keep it in mind during future exercise routines or activities.
This article is not meant to give medical advice or to replace professional health care. Should any ailment occur please contact your doctor or physical therapist immediately to keep yourself safe and prevent further damage.
The author is not liable for any personal or commercial damage directly or indirectly related to the content hereof. You are responsible for adhering to local laws and regulations regarding health & safety, including proper use of equipment or safety gear, and compliance with governing healthcare associations, and state, and federal regulations.
References for Eye Safety for Runners
- Laguna, P.L. & Dobbert, K.. (2002). The effect of wearing sunglasses on performance, exercise-induced feeling states, and perceived exertion in runners. International Journal of Sport Psychology. 33. 355-371.
Eye Health and Safety when Running
Dr. Abby Siler, PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist with 10 years of experience in a variety of settings. She has spent the majority of her time treating athletes in orthopedic clinics and worker’s compensation cases. She is a runner herself for the past 15 years and a lifelong athlete. Dr. Abby loves to teach runners how to stay injury free and out of her clinic.