What Effect Does Alcohol Have on Your Vision?


Close-up view of bottle and glasses of vodka poured into a glass isolated on white

One of the telltale signs of inebriation is blurred vision, but it is widely assumed that vision goes back to normal with sobriety. This is not always correct, though. Alcohol can affect the optic nerve and actually lead to permanent vision changes. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying images from the eyes to the brain and can be affected by both long-term and short-term alcohol use.

Vision loss due to alcohol is known as toxic amblyopia. The way your body responds to alcohol depends on how much you drink and your tolerance threshold. Everyone responds to alcohol differently, but as a general rule, men should drink no more than 4 units per day and 21 units per week, and women should drink no more than 3 units per day and 14 units per week.

Regular episodes of heavy drinking put you at higher risk for toxic amblyopia as well as liver disease. Consider how drinking affects your eyesight. Alcohol is responsible for:

  1. Slowing neurotransmitters in your brain, which prevents the eyes from functioning effectively. The results are blurred or double vision.
  2. Reduced reaction time of your pupils.
  3. Red or bloodshot eyes, because alcohol swells the blood vessels.
  4. Involuntary rapid eye movement
  5. Headaches
  6. Sensitivity to light

Practicing moderation can help you avoid all these side effects of alcohol and protect your eyes. Drinking only one alcoholic beverage per hour can be a wise boundary to set for yourself. Also, never drink on an empty stomach, and consume lots of water between alcoholic drinks (Source: Independent).


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