by Linda Conlin, Pro to Pro Managing Editor

After a winter that may have seemed longer than usual, professional and amateur athletes alike are rushing for the great outdoors. They’re honing skills that may have become a bit rusty from lack of practice, searching for that competitive edge. They’re abandoning comfort food for good nutrition to gain strength, speed, and stamina. Do they know that nutrition can enhance one of the most critical sports skills – vision?

Sports require more visual skills than just acuity; dynamic vision skills also play an important role. Dynamic vision skills include:

  • Dynamic vision – the ability to see moving objects clearly
  • Vision tracking – the ability to follow the track of a moving object
  • Focusing – the ability to change focus quickly between objects at different distances
  • Peripheral vision – the ability to see what is on the side when looking straight ahead
  • Depth perception – the ability to judge the distance and speed of objects
  • Contrast sensitivity – the ability to detect subtle differences in shading and patterns
Nutrition can play an important role in enhancing and maintaining those skills.

Studies have shown the importance of macular pigment (MP) in enhancing the visual skills needed for sports. Macular pigment is the yellow pigment in the macula. Composed primarily of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin, MP filters blue light and provides antioxidant protection for the retina. Research has shown that multi-carotenoid supplements increased levels of macular pigment. Studies conducted around the world on these supplements found improvements in visual processing speed, enhanced contrast sensitivity, attenuated photophobia, and faster recovery from bright light exposure, all of which can contribute to a competitive edge in sports.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found naturally in the “green leafies,” kale, collard greens and spinach, but most of us don’t consume enough of them on a daily basis to meet eye health requirements. Meso-zeaxanthin is rarely found in foods and believed to be formed in the macula from other carotenoids.  Supplements specifically geared for vision health can provide the optimum levels of carotenoids. While there is currently no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for lutein and zeaxanthin, the recommended level for eye health is 10 mg/day for lutein and 2 mg/day for zeaxanthin. For meso-zeaxanthin, 10mg approximates the level in the MP.

So get out there and show ‘em what you can do! And show them you can do it better with healthy vision. Talk to your eyecare professional about supplements that are right for you. You’ll not only improve your performance today; you’ll protect your vision for a lifetime. 
Game on!

Learn more about eye health promoting nutrients with our CE, Nutrition and Vision at