We all know that a heavy night of drink causes blurred vision - or even seeing double. That’s because alcohol slows the rate at which communication passes between your brain and muscles; among the muscles affected are those in your eye, with poor muscle co-ordination leading to distorted vision.
Alcohol also makes your pupils react slower; they contract and dilate much slower than normal in response to changes in light. This makes it harder for you to detect contrasts in colours and shades, and even the difference between light and dark. This is one of the reasons why drink and playing sport or driving don’t mix well.
Other immediate effects of alcohol can be:
Although you may have bleary, bloodshot eyes after your office Christmas party, our bodies are clever and will soon reverse the effects of the occasional heavy night. What they find much harder to deal with is a relentless onslaught, or even persistent drinking – the odd glass of wine with dinner that develops into a habit of half a bottle a night.
Sustained alcohol drinking has been shown to cause the following effects on eye health:
The list of potential consequences for your eye health of sustained drinking makes for scary reading. But the good news is that changing your relationship with alcohol will often give your body the respite it needs to repair the damage. Talk to your GP about local support available to help you reduce your alcohol intake, check out the advice offered by Alcohol Concern or have a look at the helpful tips published by alcohol recovery charity Don’t Bottle It Up. A quality eye test with state-of-the-art equipment will give you an accurate diagnosis of the state of your eye health, and enable you to access any necessary treatment to protect your vision.
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