what alcohol does to your eyes
Alcohol and 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.
“Alcohol is a diuretic, causing your body to remove fluids faster. This dehydration extends to your eyes, accelerating the symptoms of dry eyes.”
Short-term effects of alcohol on your eyes
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. Eye sprays and 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 faster and giving you dry eyes. This dehydration extends to your eyes, accelerating the symptoms of dry eye syndrome (itchiness, a burning sensation, blurry vision, watery eyes etc.). 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 an eye spray or eye drops is also recommended to give a boost of moisture.
This is a commonly asked question. It’s a symptom of dry eyes and dry eye disease for some people. The diuretic effects of alcohol cause your body to remove water (through your pee) at a higher rate. This dehydrates your eyes, accelerating the symptoms of dry eye syndrome (which include itchiness, a burning sensation, blurry vision, and for some people, watery eyes).
Alcohol causes your body to dehydrate, which in turn causes your organs (which includes your skin) to 'fight back' by retaining water - which may lead to bags under eyes.
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.
Long-term effects of alcohol on your eyes
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“Alcohol reduces the oxygen in your blood, which causes the tiny blood vessels on the eye’s surface (the sclera) to dilate. This means more blood flows through them, giving your eyes an inflamed, red appearance.”
how to get rid of puffy eyes after drinking alcohol
- Cold compresses reduce inflammation and swelling by reducing blood flow. Use anything cold (ice pack, frozen vegetables, cold cucumber slices or spoons) over closed eyes for a few minutes.
- Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor (constricting blood vessels) which reduces swelling. You could also try putting cold tea bags (caffeinated) on your closed eyes.
Alcohol may increase the risk of Cataracts
Alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of Cataracts. The exact mechanism is not yet fully understood:
- One possible mechanism is that alcohol consumption can increase oxidative stress in the eye's lens. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body's ability to neutralise them. This can cause damage to the proteins in the lens, leading to the development of cataracts.
- Another possible way alcohol may contribute to cataract formation is through changes in the metabolism of the lens proteins. Studies have shown that chronic alcohol use can affect the metabolism of specific amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. This disruption in protein metabolism could potentially contribute to the development of cataracts.
- There is also some evidence to suggest that alcohol consumption may interact with other risk factors for cataracts, such as smoking and poor nutrition.