The Eye-ssential Eye Care Kit: Gym

Whether you're a professional athlete or a gym newbie, you need to be vision-prepared for your workout so you can perform at your best and reach your fitness goals.

I keep a small toiletry bag in the larger bag I carry with me to the gym. This means I can hit the gym after work or go for a run during lunch without having to stop by home first. Keep reading for my list of eye care essentials to pack in your gym bag.

Here’s a handy list of nine eye care essentials to pack in your gym bag. Includes bonus tips to help keep your eyes healthy and you seeing your best.


Photo credit: OptomEyesLife

1. Protective Eyewear + Goggles

Depending on the sporting activity you're doing, protective eyewear may be necessary. Sports, such as racquetball and women’s lacrosse, require protective eyewear to prevent eye injuries. Polycarbonate lenses are recommended for their impact-resistant properties. For water-based activities, be sure to wear goggles to protect your eyes from the harsh chemicals found in pool water and microbes found in fresh water.

2. Sunglasses

Protect your eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, all year-round. It is important to wear sunglasses during days with lots of sun and glare caused by water. Same thing goes for snow: be sure to wear ski or snowboarding goggles with colored filters.

  • Sport Sunglasses: These come with different features, such as anti-fog lenses, vented sides, wrapped lenses/frames, and/or elastic bands.

  • Transitions Lenses: Available to suit any frame, these high-tech lenses are light-intelligent and adapt to your environment. They switch between fully clear to dark (and even gradations of mid-tinting in between) in response to UV light levels. These lenses are a favorite of cyclists, runners, and hikers but are useful for any outdoor sport or activity.

*Bonus Tip: In addition to sunglasses, wear a hat while playing outdoors to limit UV rays from above.

Related Post: You, Me, and UV

3. Contact Lenses

Personally, I don't like to wear my eyeglasses while working out, so I keep a pack of daily disposable contact lenses in my gym bag. Daily disposable lenses make for an easier, hassle-free way to wear contacts when exercising. The clean-up is simple too: You toss them away when you're finished; no cases or solutions are needed.

If you need to wear contact lenses for water sports, daily disposables are the better option. Why? Contact lenses tend to absorb water and trap it against the eye, thereby allowing harmful microbes and dangerous parasites such as Acanthamoeba found in water to attack the surface of the eye. To decrease your risk of developing a serious eye infection, toss your contact lenses after wearing them in water.

Related Post: How to Be a Better Contact Lens Wearer

4. Contact Lens Solution + Case

If you wear reusable contact lenses, you must keep them clean. Some of the more popular multipurpose contact lens solutions are available in smaller, 2 to 3 oz. travel-sized bottles to store in your gym bag. Pack a contact lens case with a tight-fitting lid so the solution doesn’t leak out into your bag. ​​

Contact lens cases also function as great travel containers for smaller amounts of cream makeup and lotions. Just don't reuse the containers for storing contact lenses.

5. Eyewear Case

If you won't be wearing your glasses during your workout, you need to store them somewhere. Protect your eyewear investment with a solid hard case and keep it safe in your gym bag or locker.

6. Eyeglass Cleaner + Cloth

Wipe off those smudges and sweat marks with a travel-sized spray bottle of eyeglass cleaner and a clean microfiber cloth.

7. Nerdwax

Nerdwax is an all-natural, organic, beeswax-based wax that you apply the nosepads or inner bridge of your glasses. It’s designed to prevent your glasses from slipping down your nose when you break a sweat.

8. Artificial Tears

I don’t leave home without artificial tears, also known as re-wetting or lubricating eye drops. They are found over-the-counter in the eye care aisle of your local pharmacy or grocery store. You may be familiar with certain name brands, such as Blink, Refresh, or Systane, to name a few. My preference is the preservative-free artificial tears that come in small vials versus the bottle.

Gym air is usually air-conditioned and dry, which can cause increased evaporation of your tear film and lead to dry eye symptoms. Depending on the time of year, outdoor air can be dry or full of irritants such as pollen or debris that can be picked up by the wind. Keep a bottle of artificial tears on hand to quickly irrigate your eyes when they feel dry, burning, gritty, or irritated from your surrounding environment.

9. Water Bottle

Everyone knows you need to hydrate while exercising, but did you know that drinking water also keeps your eyes feeling their best? Staying hydrated helps keep your eyes feeling more comfortable by warding off symptoms of dry eye.

Keep this list handy for the next time you pack your gym bag. I hope these tips help you reach your fitness goals – whether it’s climbing a mountain, finishing in first place, or finally being able to do a full push-up without using your knees.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below for others in the community to read, and connect with OEL on Instagram @OptomEyesLife.

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