If you really needed another reason not to drink and drive, here it is: alcohol decreases your night vision. It’s no secret that alcohol messes with your brain, causing a whole slew of problems that can inhibit your ability to drive, but the alcohol also causes direct problems with your eyes that add to your already inhibited state of mind.
How the Eye is Affected
According to a study performed by the University of Granada, alcohol causes normal night vision problems to significantly increase, meaning if you already have night vision issues, those issues are exacerbated by the alcohol in your system. The higher your blood alcohol level is, the more your night vision is affected.
The alcohol disturbs the covering of the eye called the tear-film, which destroys the quality of the images you see. The ethanol from the alcohol flows into the eye covering and deteriorates it. When the tear-film, or eye covering, has deteriorated, the quality of all the images you see deteriorates as well.
Results of Study
Researchers gathered 67 subjects and gave them varying quantities of wine, measured their breath alcohol content, and then studied the quality of their retinal images and their night-vision performances. They used a visual test called the halometer to determine how well they could visualize images in low-light conditions. This allowed them to measure the quality of the night vision disturbances they were seeing, such as seeing halos around lights.
What they found out is that the perception of halos around bright lights and other night vision disturbances increased while the quality of the images that the eyes produced significantly deteriorated. The higher the breath alcohol content was over the legal the limit, the more night vision was affected.
This research has been of value to public healthcare and society in general, especially when it comes to driving at night. Night vision and alcohol consumption have been factors in many traffic accidents for a very long time, but the hope is that people will become even more aware of the kinds of effects alcohol can have on a person, while driving, and especially on their vision.
When you are put in the situation that the researchers put the subjects of the study in, your visual perceptions would make it incredibly difficult to see a person walking across the street, or to make out the shape or image of a road sign, or the headlights from oncoming cars would completely mesmerize and blind you to seeing anything else.
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Improving Night Vision
The first step in improving night vision is to definitely never drink alcohol before or while driving. Other than that, there are several ways you can try to improve how well you see at night while you are driving. Some people have such terrible night vision that they can’t drive after dark at all without risking getting into an accident.
You can attempt to increase your vitamin A intake, which can help to improve your night vision. You can do this by eating more carrots of course, although it will take a whole lot of carrots to give you enough vitamin A to boost your night vision that much. You can eat and drink other beverages and foods that contain vitamin A, or you can take a vitamin A supplement.
You can also boost your intake of lutein, which is a nutrient found in a variety of foods. Lutein is very beneficial for your eye health and one of those benefits happens to include your ability to see at night. You can find high amounts of lutein in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as a variety of other foods.
In addition, you can also improve your overall eye health by including eye-healthy vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements into your diet. These nutrients have the ability to strengthen your eyes and the muscles around them to improve your vision naturally and safely.