Eyes and Alcohol: The Effects of Drinking

When you think of a person who abuses alcohol, you might imagine their eyes to be bloodshot or even have a yellow tint. What you may not know is that drinking alcohol can have much more serious, long-lasting consequences on your eyesight—including permanent blindness. Toxic optic neuropathy is a condition where alcohol damages the optic nerve.

  • Short-term effects of alcohol can impair and alter vision, but excessive alcohol can greatly impact eyesight and vision, leading to a condition referred to as toxic amblyopia.
  • You may also be able to find alcohol addiction treatment near you by visiting the SAMHSA treatment locator.
  • Additionally, drinking alcohol can change the way that your eyes respond to natural light and other stimuli.
  • We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.
  • Those who partake in excessive drinking or binge drinking may develop double vision as a short-term side effect.
  • It is a common trigger for people who have migraines, and alcohol can also trigger a headache for some people who don’t otherwise have migraines or headaches.

When this happens, you may have blurred vision or double vision due to weakened eye-muscle coordination. Intoxication is responsible for short-term effects such as blurred vision. Once a person recovers from intoxication, their vision should return to normal. The effects may be short term, such as blurred or double vision, or they may be long term and potentially permanent. Excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect the eyes, leading to rapid eye movement, double vision, and potential blindness. But long-term alcoholism can cause nutritional deficiencies (such as B12 and folate deficiency) and gut absorption issues.

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For example, researchers found that people who have been drinking are likely to rate images as more attractive, widely known as the “beer goggles” effect. When consumed in large amounts over an extended period of time, alcohol can change the health of your eyes by weakening the muscles and deteriorating parts of your brain that control sight. Addiction treatment programs like the ones at The Blackberry Center are here to help you recover from the physical and emotional pain that stems from these conditions. Here, you will be overseen by medical professionals to keep you physically safe from harm as well as mental health experts who will work with you to treat the root cause of your struggles with addiction. There must be a clear distinction between harmless floaters and severe eye problems.

A Journal of Ophthalmology study found that night vision gets worse after drinking in both men and women. The more alcohol the subjects drank, the worse their vision became under low-light conditions. They saw halos and starbursts, had difficulty seeing contrast, and experienced longer recovery time after a bright light was shined in their eyes. Early onset cataractsIn normal, everyday situations, cataracts typically begin to develop after age 55. However, recent research has shown heavy drinking significantly contributes to the development of cataracts and increases the risk of experiencing the condition much earlier than age 55.

Permanent Effects of Alcohol on Eye Health

Additionally, alcoholism also disrupts neurological connections to the eye and disturbs optical nerve health. Among its short-term effects are blurred vision and double vision, which can be temporary effects of intoxication, although they typically wear off as the person sobers up or the next day. Alcohol abuse can also contribute to long-term changes to vision such as an increased risk of developing cataracts. While short-term health effects, including double or blurred vision, typically go away when alcohol isn’t being consumed, these conditions do have the potential to become chronic issues. Over time, repeated abuse of alcohol can lead to permanent damage to the brain and neurotransmitters that are specifically related to vision.

Even small amounts of alcohol can cause dry eyes, which leads to pain. More seriously, alcohol can lead to permanent damage to the optic nerve, which may result in permanent alcohol-related blindness. Intoxication means the effect of acute consumption of alcohol on different physiologic processes in the body. Not only following binge drinking, it can even happen following acute intake of light or moderate levels of alcohol.[4] The main feature of alcohol intoxication refers to its effect on the central nervous system. However, change in visual functions have always been focused in ethanol intoxications. Blurred visionAlcohol slows the brain’s ability to send important messages to muscles throughout the body.

Excessive alcohol consumption also affects your eyesight

Besides vision loss, regular alcohol consumption affects your mental health, your liver, and other organs. In the short term, alcohol causes people to have bloodshot and dry eyes as well as blurred vision. But in the long term, alcohol consumption can cause a nutrient deficiency in the body which is known to cause optic nerve damage and even blindness. While the short-term damage to the eyes from drinking alcohol may be irritating, most of these conditions will clear up if alcohol consumption is stopped or reduced. On the other hand, alcoholic eye damage resulting from chronic alcohol abuse may be long-lasting or permanent. One of the main reasons for damage to the eyes from alcohol abuse is thought to be vitamin deficiency from long-term alcohol abuse.

alcohol blurry vision

This condition may not cause immediate vision loss, but can result in complete vision loss over time. Drinking alcohol poses numerous health risks, including risks to your eye health. You might not realize it, but alcohol use, especially heavy drinking, may cause potential problems for your eyes and eyesight.

The risk of developing age-related cataracts changes based on the amount of alcohol a person drinks. An Optometry and Vision Science study found that moderate drinking may have a protective effect against cataracts. The study also found an increased risk of developing cataracts among heavy drinkers — those who drank more than two drinks (20 grams of alcohol) a day. A large study investigating the effect of alcohol on dry eye disease found that women have a significantly higher risk of experiencing dry eye symptoms after alcohol use as compared with men.

If you have any eye problems you worry may be related to drinking, talk to your eye doctor. They can do a comprehensive eye exam to look for signs of cataracts, macular degeneration and other problems. Our experienced staff at The Woods at Parkside has been delivering evidence-based addiction treatment for blurry vision after drinking alcohol over 20 years. Treatment with us starts with detox, where you can safely withdraw from alcohol and other drugs in a supervised setting. Then, you can continue your treatment in our 50-bed residential facility, where you’ll receive the best in addiction treatment from qualified, multi-disciplinary staff.

Many of these conditions can cause significant visual changes, unusual eye movement, and vision loss. Treatments will vary greatly based on a person’s symptoms or health conditions that develop as a result of alcohol use. A person should talk with a doctor about treatment options that will work for them. Possible short-term problems relating to intoxication include blurry vision, changes in color perception, and light sensitivity. Dry eyes are a common symptom from any type of alcoholic beverage, including wine.

alcohol blurry vision

January 11, 2024

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