We have all heard of beer goggles, and some of us have even worn them a time or two, but what are we really doing to our eyes with all this drinking? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pint of IPA or glass of pinot noir wine as much as the next person, but have you thought about what excessive drinking can do to your eyes? Football season has begun, which means tailgates & college parties are in full swing, so I thought I would give you a little information about how alcohol consumption can affect your eyes. It might also make you drink a little more responsibly at your next event.
We all know that drinking too much alcohol can give you blurry and distorted vision, but did you know that after only a few drinks, according to the new study by Western University in Canada, alcohol can reduce the eyes’ capabilities of detecting differences between light and dark by 30%!! This is due to alcohol’s effect on the muscles which control your pupils, impairing their ability to constrict and dilate correctly to adjust differing levels of light surrounding them.
Eye twitching can be annoying. We have all been there when your lid just won’t stop quivering. What could cause this? ALCOHOL. Too much alcohol consumption can have an effect not only on the muscles around your eyes, but also the muscles that control your eye movement. Diplopia, or double vision, can also be a result of too much booze.
You don’t need to go jumping on the wagon just yet, as these effects will wear off as soon as the alcohol has left your body. However, there are long term affects one should consider before you tap your next keg. We all know that long-term, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to damage of the liver. Do you know what your liver does? Well, one important thing it does for your eyes is absorb much needed nutrients to keep you seeing your best. When your liver does not function properly, you can have a decrease in vitamin B-1, which can cause a weakening or paralysis of your eye muscles. Remember that double vision we talked about? Now it can be permanent. Also, many of you may know that vitamin A is essential to our eyes, and with less absorption and storage due to liver dysfunction, night driving can become even more difficult. Yikes!?!
Multiple studies have also shown that too much alcohol and for long periods of time can increase cataract formation and age-relate macular degeneration (AMD). Cataracts are changes within the lens inside your eye that can cause blurred vision. Although treatable, we don’t want to be sending you for surgery at the age 40. AMD is damage to the most crucial part of your eye, the macula, and leads to loss of your central vision.
Now I don’t know about you, but out of all my senses, I think sight is my favorite! That’s why I became an eye doctor--to help maintain and preserve vision in all of my patients. That is why regular eye exams and fundus photos are important to monitor your eye health to ensure those crazy weekends aren’t taking their toll.
So the next time you think about drinking a little more than you probably should, put the glass down. Your eyes will thank you for it!