5 min

How alcoholaffects your eyes

bloodshot eyes

Alcohol consumption reduces oxygen in your red blood cells, and causes the tiny blood vessels on the surface of the eye (the sclera) to dilate. This results in more blood flowing through them - giving your eyes an inflamed, red appearance. An eye spray or drops may be helpful, as well as some home remedies like placing a cold compress, or a spoon, which creates a drop in temperature on the eye surface, helping restrict the blood vessels and reduce the redness.

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“Alcohol is a diuretic, causing your body to remove fluids at a faster rate. This dehydration extends to your eyes, accelerating the symptoms of dry eyes.”

Short to medium term effects of alcohol
  • After you've had a few drinks you’ll experience blurred vision. This is because alcohol affects your peripheral vision (i.e. seeing objects outside your central vision). The blurry vision from the alcohol is a result of this tunnel vision, together with double vision and slower pupil reaction.
  • Alcohol consumption causes the tiny blood vessels on the surface of the eye to dilate, giving your eyes an inflamed, bloodshot appearance. An eye spray or drops may be helpful, as well as some home remedies like placing a cold compress, or a spoon, which creates a drop in temperature on the eye surface, helping restrict the blood vessels and reduce the redness.
  • Alcohol is a diuretic, causing your body to remove fluids at a faster rate. This dehydration extends to your eyes, accelerating the symptoms of dry eye syndrome (itchiness, a burning sensation, blurry vision – see link below for more on this). Try to replace lost fluid with glasses of water. A rough guide is 1 large glass of water per 2 units of alcohol drunk. Also, remember to remove your contact lenses before going to bed, as they limit the amount of oxygen reaching your cornea - and may lead to long-term conditions like keratitis (inflammation of the cornea). Using and eye spray or eye drops is also recommended to give a much-need boost of moisture.
  • Alcohol causes your body to dehydrate, which in turn causes your organs (which includes your skin) to 'fight back' by retaining water. See link below for more on this.
  • Eyelid twitching is another indicator of (excessive) alcohol consumption. This painless, but annoying eye spasm is also known as myokymia. The twitching sensation should go away within a few days. If it lasts longer than 2 weeks, you should see a doctor. If you find your eyelids twitch on a regular basis, it may be because of stress, lack of sleep, too much caffeine or a vitamin deficiency.
  • the long term effects of alcohol

    Long term excessive consumption of alcohol may significantly impact your eyes, leading to problems, including:

    (i) Lazy eye: Also known as amblyopia. A lazy eye can stem from excessive drinking, which increases your risk of vision loss and/or permanent damage.

    (ii) Cataracts: Studies have shown a link between cataract development (involving cloudy patches covering the lens of your eye, blurring your vision) and high alcohol consumption.

    (iii) Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of AMD developing, which harms the macula (the central part of the retina) and reduces your visual acuity. (For more information on AMD, see link below.)

    (iv) Vitamin deficiency: Vitamins are essential for eye function. Heavy drinking drains your body's natural reserves - which may result in optic neuritis. This condition inflames the optic nerve, leading to loss of central vision and blurry vision.

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