[PHOTO: Maskot]

You use your eyes constantly on the golf course: picking targets, assessing obstacles and elevations, reading putts. The better your eyes are working, the more helpful they are to you on the course. Pros know this – that’s why there are foods in PGA Tour dining labelled as improving visual-motor performance.

According to PGA Tour performance dietician Ryan Harmon, including the key antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet can improve your vision and therefore positively affect your performance on the golf course.

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If you get enough lutein and zeaxanthin, the benefits to your sight are numerous, Harmon says. She lists: colour discrimination, spatial vision (contrast sensitivity and acuity), temporal vision (dynamic acuity or motor perception) and visual range (ability to see a target clearly over a distance) as all improving when the body gets enough of these important antioxidants. All of that is crucial for being able to read putts and home in on a target.

“Foods highest in lutein are spinach, kale, asparagus, romaine lettuce, parsley, pistachios and egg yolks,” Harmon explains. “Cooked spinach has double the lutein because cooking increases the bioavailability. Foods highest in zeaxanthin are orange pepper, corn, egg yolks and goji berries. Goji berries are one of the highest dietary sources of zeaxanthin.”

One measure of eye health is to test macular pigment optical density (MPOD). A high MPOD score means healthy eyes. “A dietary intervention that increases fresh fruit and vegetable intake in athletes can boost MPOD, and possibly improve visual range ability and athletic performance,” Harmon says. “Research in athletes has shown that improvement in MPOD scores leads to improvements in contrast sensitivity, visual clarity, visual processing speeds, glare recovery and reaction time.”

Practice is obviously necessary to being able to read putts well. But adding the foods Harmon mentioned can help.