How Alcohol Affects Your Eyes Image

How Alcohol Affects Your Eyes

We all know alcohol can affect our bodies negatively, and these effects can be both short- and long-term. We are told to never drink and drive when we are in grade school. We’ve also seen the havoc too much alcohol can wreak on our liver later in life, if we aren’t careful. But doe alcohol affect your eyes? The short answer is yes, alcohol affects your eyes. Just like anything else you put in your body, it can affect how well you see now and later in life.

But what exactly does alcohol do to our eyes? Alcohol can definitely have short-term vision-altering effects, but what about repeated exposure to alcohol? Are there any permanent effects that you need to worry about? Read on to gain a better understanding of how alcohol affects your eyes. You may want to think twice about your drinking habits!

Alcohol and Your Eyes

Consuming alcohol every once in a while will not have any real negative effects on your eyes. Everything in moderation, right? If you drink a little here and there, there may be some temporary effects such as dizziness and blurry vision, depending on how much alcohol you consume and how high your tolerance is. But any effects you feel while drinking will most likely go away, especially if you are not a heavy drinker. This is especially true if you take care of your body after drinking alcohol. You can do that by making sure you rehydrate well after a night out. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to sleep and recharge, too.

On the other hand, if you drink heavily or often, you are at a much higher risk for short-term changes in your vision as well as permanent damage. The more you drink in one sitting, the more likely it is that you will have blurry vision and dizziness. Again, moderation is key here.

Additionally, repeated episodes of heavy drinking can lead to some very serious eye conditions as drinking alcohol is very hard on the liver and, surprisingly, the liver and eyes are closely related. Everything is related in the body, which is why paying attention to your holistic health is so important.

Effects of Heavy Drinking on Eyesight

How Alcohol Affects Your Eyes ImageDrinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time damages the brain and impairs its ability to function. Because of this, eyesight is also affected negatively. You can get permanently blurred vision or even double vision. These impairments are caused by the weakening of the muscles in the eye. Having impaired eyesight in this way can also decrease your reaction time.

Drinking too much can also alter your peripheral vision, causing you to have tunnel vision. Your pupils will also react more slowly, so they will not be able to constrict or open up as well. This can make driving very difficult since you can’t react well to headlights.

Alcohol can damage your ability to see the contrast in colors. It will be difficult to distinguish between different shades of similar colors if your eyes have been damaged by alcohol. Another problem associated with too much alcohol is optic neuropathy.

Optic neuropathy can cause loss of vision (which will most likely be painless), decreased peripheral vision, and problems seeing colors. It is a more serious condition than some of the other effects described above. And, it’s an ongoing condition that grows worse over time.

Migraines are also a result of drinking too much. These migraines can be accompanied by sensitivity to light and other related vision problems. Likewise, too much alcohol causes the blood vessels in your eyes to grow, making your eyes appear red and bloodshot.

Rapid eye movement is another side effect that can occur in those who consume too much alcohol over a long period of time. This condition is where your eyes move involuntarily back and forth. On the other hand, some people may experience a sort of paralysis of the eyes, due to a lack of necessary vitamins brought on by excessive drinking.

Shorter-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Eyes

Even when you have just a few drinks, your eyes do not function as well as when you are sober. Drinking just one drink can cause you to get dizzy or have blurry vision. You may see doubles of everything or see spots flash across your eyes. Alcohol affects everyone differently, so you need to be cautious.

Although somewhat debated, some believe that drinking reduces some of the antioxidants in your system – and these antioxidants are the ones that protect against eye diseases specifically. You may be at a higher risk of developing cataracts and other eye diseases if you drink heavily.

How to Avoid Alcohol-Related Eye Problems

You don’t have to give up alcohol entirely to prevent these negative vision-related side effects. Drinking occasionally is not likely to cause any damage to your eyesight.

However, if you are a heavy drinker or have struggled with alcoholism in the past, you need to take control of your habits in order to save your eyesight (and your overall health, for that matter, but for now we’ll focus on your vision!)

Practice good habits while drinking. Pace yourself and never drink on an empty stomach. Also, be sure to drink water in between your alcoholic drinks in order to prevent yourself from getting drunk. Limit yourself to one drink an hour and remember that one drink can equal a glass of wine, a shot of hard liquor, or a can/bottle of beer.

Be aware of how much alcohol is being put into your mixed drinks as well, and always ask if you are not sure what is in the drink. It is much better to be informed about the alcohol content of your drinks than to pay the price later!

Additionally, you should know your own limits. You need to be aware of how much alcohol you can handle and make sure you stay within that limit. You should also monitor how often you drink to your own personal limit (or over it). By taking these steps, you can still enjoy the social effects of alcohol while protecting your eyes.

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Join or Start the Discussion

  1. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Pam says:

    Alcoholism is the no. 1 cause of WKS because people with the condition generally have a poor diet and alcohol also prevents vitamin B-1 absorption and storage. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is a type of brain disorder caused by a lack of vitamin B-1, or thiamine. Symptoms of WKS may include confusion, changes to the eyes and vision, or exaggerated storytelling, among others. It is a treatable condition, but left untreated, can cause permanent effects on vision and memory.

  2. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Sydney zastrocky says:

    Thais this helped with my health project on alcohols and how it effects the body

  3. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen bombshell says:

    from drinking everyday for the last 15 years my left eye wasn’t as sharp and my right eye was really blurry and cloudy. I thought maybe I was dehydrated from the drinking so I started buying pedialyte powder packets and mixed them in a glass of water every time I drank. after about 2 months I woke up one day and my vision was a tiny bit better. hmmmm interesting. I continued pedialyte every day and little by little my vision improved! A year later and not only is my vision restored its better then I ever remember! So go do this everyday!

    • Avatar for Tyler Sorensen bombshell says:

      I would suggest if you are a bigger person then me (160lbs) then do 2 glasses a day of a pediailyte. I would think vision restored would happen most likly but slowly

  4. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen S says:

    My brother is an ex football player who had the world by its balls. Two homes, great boat, beautiful wife three kids Lets drink everyday for 25 years. All he has is gone. He can barely walk ad is eyesight is 70% gone. His legs and eyes went to shit about the same time and very quickly. Did I mention that he’s 48 years old? If he quit drinking he might get a little better. As you can imagine he now has mote issues to boot. Can’t get into with other problems. Yes folks he has tried. When he dies will you be at the funeral?

  5. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Anonymous says:

    My eyes are permanently damaged fromm alcohol …quit now before it’s too late!!L

  6. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Ajay Manohar says:

    I had underwent with a glaucoma surgery before a month, could you please suggest me whether i can consume alcohol atleast once in a week? And within that am regularly taking glaucoma medications for my non operated eye. can anyone please suggest whether i can take my medications even after my consumption of alcohol?

    It would be a great help if i found a answer for this?

  7. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Anonymous says:

    can this blurred eyes be refersed what can I do to help my eyes now

  8. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Dave says:

    I quit smoking and started drinking heavely like three times a week. One day i got a really bad migraine that lasted about a week, doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me when i went to the ER. Long story short ive been suffering blurryness to light and feel faint when i walk .. Can anyone tell me whats wrong with me ????

  9. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Jamila says:

    Hi, my dad has been drinking for about 16 years -i know, its alot- but he never got anything really bad to his eyesight they didnt even appear red or bloodshot.that was untill last year when he started getting his eyes red, and they got worse by the month 🙁 now his eyes look completely red :'( and thats not all. Theres this white thing that formed next to his pupil and every month it seems to get closer and closer to his pupil. Can someone please help me???? I have tried research but i cant find anything. Im very close to my dad and by that i’ve cried lots of times because i dont want him to get something bad :””( we’ve tried to get him to stop drinking but almost everyone in his family and friends drink and he cant help it 🙁 i dont want him to lose his eyesight or even worse…. Please help!!!!!

    • Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Shelley Rains says:

      Take him to a good eye specialist, or even a regular optomotrist should be able to tell you what is going on.Take him to the eye doctor!!

  10. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen julie wwaltrip says:

    alcohol is bad for any one it is bad for eyes liver and other organs , best to abstain from it for better health.

  11. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen travis lenz says:

    alcohol kills everybody and everything

  12. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the great post, Tyler. Your success story was very inspiring.

    Anyway, my story is that lately, my eyes have been tearing up excessively after consuming alcohol. This never used to happen. Also, my vision would be blurry to the point where I can’t even read my text messages on my phone. And this is just after a drink or two.

    My plan is to watch my alcohol intake from now on. It’s not fun when I’m always looking like I’m crying.

  13. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen darren says:

    hi ive had flashing in my right eye for years on and of but i get it more when i drink more now im getting it in both eyes plus blured vision and foggy vision on and of every day i also drink every day about 8 to 10 cans a night have you any ideas if drink is cuasing it optisions said it could be a retener tearing go to aand e straght away i did now thay want a letter of doctor for me to see a specialist thanks

  14. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen sharon says:

    my son had alcohol poisoning and his eyesight is very blurred . is there any hope that he will regain his vision and is there any treatment available for him .

  15. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen David says:

    I drink every day; on average 4 beers, and my eyes tear excessively and are very itchy. I also have problems with skin allergies and I take Claritin in the morning and evening.

    My question is if my drinking could be the cause of my watery and itchy eyes?

    Thank you in advance for any help you provide and your time and attention.


    • Avatar for Tyler Sorensen R says:

      You may be reacting to an allergy to the hops. Try switching to something less allergenic like vodka and stay away from all hops for 6 months to see if it clears up. No cheating or your body goes back to sqaure one. Hope you feel better soon.

  16. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Dariusz says:

    Drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time damages the brain ……. You can get permanently blurred vision or even double vision – alcohol do not damages brain itself only if you get wet brain from lack of vitamin. So its cant get you permanent blurred vision. Optic neuropathy is true but very rare. “damage your ability to see contrast in colors” dont lie the only researchs has been done after ingestion not in long term alcoholics. Alcohols can damage your eyes due to hypertension from alcohol consuption but other what you wrote tunel vision contrast and pupil dilation are temporary not permanent there was no studies who shows such correlation or any case. This myths are from source Alexander, Larry J, OD. Primary Care of the Posterior Segment, Third Edition. Mcgraw-Hill, 2002. 12 years! you know how we learn about alcohol eyes and brain from that time?

  17. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Susan Hansen says:

    Hi, I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease in March 2004. The endocrinologist doctor I had recommended a Radioactive iodine treatment. He said, “Your eyes may change, but, probably not.” When asked further, he said, don’t worry about it. I trusted him. He never explained the hazards or what could possibly happen to my eyes. Well, within 1 1/2 weeks my eyes started protruding and the ophthalmologist I was referred to said it was too late. He said he would not have recommended this for me and then, he said something devastating to me. He said my eyes would never be the way they were, that they would always protrude. And now I have glaucoma. Every single day since then, I am aware of my eyes. I couldn’t even talk about this for the first 6 years or so without getting hysterical. I have trouble using things like lutein. Is there something else I can take? I do take vitamins everyday. Thanks for your help!

  18. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Anna says:

    I have similar symptoms and skin rashes/allergies, and am reaching the conclusion it is a histamine intolerance.

  19. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Anonymous says:

    I’m sure this is way late but you eyes get dehydrated too.

  20. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen random internet person says:

    No, do not drink alcohol. You are only looking for validation to drink from some random person on the internet. My advice is: abstain from it 99% of the time, if you can. Better yet, consult your doctor or surgeon.

  21. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Jaz Gray says:

    I recommend that you try to get him into N.A’s. Non Alcoholic beers. I’ve been sober for 8 months now; mainly relying on prayer and asking God to take away my addiction. Getting prayer always helps too. I know and agree that Odouls sucks, but there are great tasting N.A’s that you can find in the states such as Erdinger, Cluasthaler Amber Ale, Bitburger Drive, and my favorite Schmoz 120 IPA. That one is from michigan and can be shipped to you through a company called Premium Near Beer. Well I wish you and your Dad the best and pray that he has a breakthrough and realizes that he is bigger and better than alcohol. I’m more productive myself now, healthier, and loosing weight. Take care man!

  22. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen junior says:

    Jamila you should tell your dad to go to the doctor at soon as possible they might be signs of cirrhosis of the liver ,eyes tells you everything from in the body ..

  23. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Donna says:

    Eye floaters consistent

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.


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