Australians are amongst the largest consumers of alcohol in the world, with many of us enjoying an alcoholic beverage at least once a week. We all know that alcohol, particularly a high consumption of alcohol, can result in bloodshot eyes and blurry or double vision while under the influence. However, many people are unaware of the affect regular alcohol consumption can have on our eye health in the long term. Abernethy Owens is the Optometrist Perth families rely on for professional eye care and eye health advice. Here we will look at the affects alcohol can have on your eyes in both the short and long term.

Short-Term Effects on the Eyes

  • Double vision, or blurry vision - this occurs as a result of weakened eye muscle coordination.  Alcohol is a depressant, which slows your reaction times and impairs coordination.
  • Slower pupil reaction - alcohol causes the iris to constrict and dilate at a much slower speed.
  • Decreased contrast sensitivity - alcohol can reduces the ability of the eye to adjust vision for brightness and contrast.
  • Red eyes - bloodshot eyes are another side effect of drinking too much in one session. Alcohol can cause the blood vessels in the eyes to swell, causing redness as well as itchiness and irritation.
  • Dry eyes – as alcohol is a diuretic, it can contribute to dehydration. Dry eyes can become a problem after drinking as there aren't sufficient tears to keep the eye lubricated. Dry eyes can cause irritation, as well as blurred vision, redness, itching and sensitivity to light.

These short term effects should subside within hours after finishing your alcohol consumption, but if they persist, it’s important to get your eyes checked by a local Perth Optometrist, as they could be symptoms of a more serious condition.

Long-Term Damage

While it’s widely known that regular high consumption of alcohol can affect your liver and other vital organs, what’s lesser known is the impact of heavy drinking on other parts of the body, particularly the eyes. Long term effects include:

  • Increased chance of cataracts – in patients with higher alcohol consumption, research has shown an increased risk of cataract formation. This could be due to the nutritional deficiencies which come with consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, which prevent the liver and other internal organs from absorbing vitamins and working properly.
  • Increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – regular heavy drinking can result in breathing changes, and this in turn can lead to reduced oxygen intake which can then cause optical nerve damage.
  • Optic neuropathy - a condition developed as a result of drinking or smoking excessively, this causes vision loss, a decreased ability to differentiate between colours and the gradual loss of peripheral vision.
  • Toxic amblyopia - longer term, a very high consumption of alcohol can cause toxins contained in alcohol to damage the optic nerve. Damage to the optic nerve means that messages from the eyes to the brain are interrupted and blindness can be the result.
  • Chronic dry eye disease – a common occurrence after a drinking session, however, drinking heavily over a long period of time can lead to the development of chronic dry eye, causing discomfort and blurry vision.

The risk of developing health problems that affect your eyes as well as your entire body rises the more you drink alcohol. If you do enjoy alcohol, drinking in moderation is essential.

When it comes to eye health, it is recommended that adults get their eyes tested every 2 years. This allows for early detection of any changes in vision and underlying health problems. You should have an eye examination, even if you are have not noticed any changes to your vision as many problems can originate with minimal symptoms.

With 5 convenient locations, Abernethy Owens makes it easy to stay on top of your eye health. With a team of highly skilled and experienced Optometrists, make an appointment for an eye examination in Fremantle, Rockingham, Woodvale, Kardinya or Floreat today. Book online now.