How Alcohol Affects Your Eyes
Light or moderate consumption of alcohol is unlikely to cause health problems of any kind but heavy drinking can have negative consequences for vision and eye health along with the well-documented ill-effects of heavy drinking on health in general.
These effects can be cosmetic or the consequences of the effects of alcohol on other parts of the body.There is also some evidence that alcohol consumption can cause or exacerbate specific eye conditions.
These effects can be short-term or long-term. Short-term effects occur during the period of drinking when eyesight is directly compromised by the effect of alcohol on the brain. Long-term effects occur as a consequence of the regular over-consumption of alcohol.
Short-term effects of alcohol on your eyes
During a period of drinking, the eyes are affected in several ways. First of all, the effect of alcohol on the brain will cause blurred vision or sometimes even double vision can be the result. This is as a consequence of more limited coordination of the eye muscles while one is drinking.
The pupil of the eye also dilates and contracts more slowly during or shortly after consuming too much alcohol. The range of vision can be reduced so that the drinker may only see straight ahead which is a temporary type of tunnel vision.
Contrasts between shades of grey are also difficult to discern when one is under the influence which makes driving or walking outdoors at night particularly hazardous when drinking.How does alcohol affect your eyes? is a good resource for more information on the short-term effects of alcohol on eye function.
Migraine headaches can also be brought on by alcohol consumption for those who are predisposed to suffering from them. These migraines are often characterized by visual disturbances such as light patterns or blind spots.
Cosmetic effects of alcohol on your eyes.
The two most commonly reported cosmetic effects of alcohol consumption on the eyes are bloodshot eyes and yellowing of the white of the eye.Because alcohol dilates the capillaries (small veins) in the eyes they can break and bloodsho eyes is the result of this.
If the health of the liver is compromised by alcohol abuse, the result is yellowing of the whites of the eyes.For further information on this the article Long Term Effects of Alcohol is worth reading.
Both these cosmetic effects are long term consequences of how alcohol affects your eyes.
Alcohol and Eye Diseases
Although not all studies prove that there is a link between eye disease and alcohol abuse, there is some evidence to suggest that there is a connection between a higher risk of cataracts in heavy drinkers. Many of the reported studies undertaken were on moderate drinkers so the effects of alcohol on eye disease in heavy drinkers is not established. However, other medical studies suggest that heavy drinking may be associated with deficiencies in color vision as well as cataracts and other eye diseases.
There is also some evidence reported that deterioration of eyesight,limited color vision or the development of tunnel vision may be more prevalent in heavy drinkers, especially those who smoke as well.Some studies suggest that that these conditions are caused by a nutritional deficiency while others conclude that they are because of alcohol (and tobacco) toxicity. Indeed, it could be said that poor nutrition is common in heavy drinkers which adds further weight to the argument that heavy drinking is the primary cause.
Summary and Conclusion
It is clear that alcohol affects your eyes in many ways. Firstly, there is the temporary effect of distorting vision due to the effects of alcohol on the brain. This is a short-term consequence, occurring mainly during or shortly after over-consumption of alcohol. Next, there are the cosmetic effects of bloodshot eyes and the yellowing of the eyeball as a symptom of liver disease. Finally, there is some evidence to suggest that some eye diseases, for example cataracts, can be caused or exacerbated by alcohol abuse on a long-term basis.