How Does Alcohol Affect Our Vision
How Does Alcohol Affect Our Vision?
Over 85% of adults in the U.S. have had a drink at some point in their life. For some, that means casual drinking or a serving of beer or wine with dinner. Light drinking typically doesn’t have any adverse health effects, and it won’t cause any long-term problems. In fact, some studies have suggested that drinking a glass of wine each day can benefit your health.
But alcohol becomes a health risk in multiple ways when it’s consumed too frequently or in larger quantities. Excessive drinking or binge drinking can lead to both physical and mental health concerns — including problems with your vision. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, 1 out of every 6 adults in the U.S. binge drink four times per month.
You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about blurred vision after drinking too much. Schools and youth programs across the country even occasionally offer workshops where students have to wear “beer goggles” so they can see how alcohol can impact their sight.
Drinking too much make vision problems far more serious. Its effects can last longer than just the time it takes to sober up. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how alcohol affects your eyes, as well as the rest of your mind and body.
Alcohol and Your Eyes
Heavy drinking doesn’t just cause problems with your vision; it damages your overall eye health. Some people complain about having “double vision” when they’ve had too much to drink. This is a symptom of the weakening of eye-muscle coordination. When you drink too much, your brain slows down. As a result, your vision can become blurry or you might think you’re seeing more than one object at a time.
Excessive drinking can also lead to a decrease in your peripheral vision. It can give you tunnel vision, which makes it hard to see anything that isn’t right in front of you. Your pupils also have a slower response time, which makes it difficult to see things like headlights or streetlights correctly. Those are only a few of the reasons why it’s so dangerous to drive a car when you’ve had too much to drink.
Some other effects include:
- Excessive drinking over time can lead to a condition called optic neuropathy. This condition can lead to a loss of vision or change the way you see colors.
- Alcohol is also often linked to migraines, which can affect your vision by creating “blind spots” or even squiggled or zigzag patterns in your vision.
- Alcohol can potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies, including a lack of zinc. Your body needs zinc for a variety of reasons, but when it comes to eye health, a zinc deficiency can cause swelling of the cornea, as well as night blindness or macular degeneration.
In short, binge drinking limits how well your eyes work. Everything is slower to respond, and you’re less likely to be able to see the full picture of what’s going on around you.
How Binge Drinking Affects Your Body
While the problems alcohol can cause with your eyes are concerning, it’s important to note some of the other health issues that can be caused by excessive drinking.
Having more than two drinks at a time can cause a spike in blood pressure. If you regularly binge drink, it can lead to hypertension as well as potential heart problems.
Other potential health risks of binge drinking include:
- Liver disease
- Pancreatitis Cancer
- Weakened immune system
Because alcohol directly impacts the brain, long-term use can actually change the way your brain works. When you’ve had too much to drink, this often leads to things like a lack of coordination or a slow response time.
Continued use of alcohol, though, can lead to mood and behavioral changes. Alcohol causes more than just physical health problems; it can also affect you mentally and emotionally.
Some people use alcohol to cope with existing mental health conditions, like depression. But, alcohol has actually been known to cause depression. It decreases the serotonin levels in your brain, which can make you feel sad, sluggish, or upset. Drinking too much alcohol when you’ve already got a mental health issue can also make it easier to make impulsive or “bad” decisions that can lead to regret later on.
Clearing Up Your Vision
Binge drinking leads to a lot of immediate vision problems, but when you continue to do it, you could be creating long-term eye health issues for yourself. The good news is that many of the effects of alcohol can be reversed, even if you’ve been drinking for a long time.
If you do drink frequently and have noticed problems with your vision, or you’re having frequent migraines, the best thing to do is to see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Having a plan in place to take care of your vision can help you to get back on the road to better optical health.
Limiting your alcohol intake or quitting drinking altogether will help to keep your entire body (including your eyes) healthy.