Most people know that alcohol can distort your judgment, but the impact it can have on your vision can be more serious than just temporary distortion. If you’ve ever had too much to drink, you may already know that it can make your vision fuzzy. Alcohol consumption can have both short and long term affects on your eyesight.
Here are a few ways drinking can impact your eyes short term:
Slows Your Pupil’s Reaction Time: Alcohol is a depressant, and thus it slows your body’s reaction time as a whole. This includes the reaction time of your pupils, too. When the iris constricts and dilates at a slower speed, it is more difficult to adjust to visual changes. For example: the sudden change of the color of a traffic light may not register quickly enough for a driver to slow down or stop, leading to a dangerous driving situation.
Affects Your Ability to Recognize Contrast: Even when one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is at the legal driving limit, their ability to see clearly between light and dark can become blurry. This means it’s more difficult to distinguish contrast. At certain times of day, like dusk or dawn, when it’s neither fully light or dark outside, this could make driving under the influence even more difficult and dangerous.
Eye Twitching: Alcohol consumption can lead to eye twitching.
Dry Eye: Drinking dehydrates your body, which can leave your eyes feeling dry. Certain studies show that even drinking small amounts of can lead to the symptoms of dry eye.
The short-term effects of alcohol should dissipate as you sober up, but long-term, excessive alcohol consumption can cause the following types of damage to your eyes and vision.
Cataracts: Alcohol consumption can lead to cataracts.
Age-related Macular Degeneration: Excessive consumption can lead to AMD.
Night Blindness: Decreased vitamin absorption can lead to night blindness or other vision loss.
Eye Weakness: Another result of vitamin loss, excessive drinking can interrupt absorption of vitamin B-1, which can cause eye paralysis.
Optic Neuropathy: This condition causes a slow and painless loss of vision.
Additionally, pregnant women who drink can severely impact the vision of their unborn babies. Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) can result in underdevelopment of the optic nerve, droopy eyelids, or poor eye coordination for the baby.
If you think your vision may be affected by long-term alcohol consumption, make an appointment at your closest America’s Best optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam immediately.