How Alcohol Affects Your Vision and Eye Health
Alcohol consumption can lead to more than blurry vision and bloodshot eyes. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over time can lead to temporary or permanent vision loss. Here’s how alcohol affects your vision and eye health.
Temporary Effects of Alcohol on Eye Health
Having “one too many” drinks in an evening can cause blood sugar levels to spike, leading to blurred vision. Excessive drinking also causes your brain to malfunction, slowing the communication between your eyes and brain. It can also impair the function of the muscles around the eyes which can cause double vision. Additionally, when you’re under the influence of alcohol, your pupils dilate more slowly, and you can lose the ability to differentiate between certain colours.
In addition to the impairing effects of overindulging, excessive drinking can affect the feeling and appearance of your eyes. It can cause them to turn red because consuming alcohol causes the vessels in your eyes to swell and fill with blood – hence the term bloodshot. Your eyes may also get very dry because alcohol is a diuretic, making you urinate more and causing dehydration.
Permanent Effects of Alcohol on Eye Health
Besides temporary effects like blurry vision and dry, bloodshot eyes, excess drinking regularly can also cause permanent vision loss.
Research has linked alcoholism to an increased risk of developing macular degeneration and optic neuropathy, diseases which can lead to blindness if left untreated. The exact relationship between alcohol abuse and these diseases isn’t known, but researchers suggest it may be due to a vitamin A deficiency, which is often correlated with alcoholism.
Treating Alcohol-Related Vision Problems
Some temporary vision and eye health problems from drinking can be easily treated. For example, many eye care products can treat dry eyes and reduce redness.
To avoid the more severe health consequences, have your eyes checked annually, whether you drink heavily or not. A general eye exam can help you catch and treat eye diseases like macular degeneration before they cause vision loss.