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‘Tis the Season: Alcohol and its Effect on the Eyes

You’ll want to consider more than beer goggles this season when enjoying your favorite adult beverages. Heavy drinking of alcohol can have some seriously grinchy long-term, adverse effects on your peepers as well. In the spirit of spirits, let’s examine the short and long-term effects of alcohol on your “baby blues.”

Short-term effects:

  • Distorted or double-vision. If you just looked in the mirror and saw Beyoncé looking back (or two Beyoncés), it’s time to switch to water and coffee.
  • Increased eye dryness. Even just a bit o’ liquid courage can increase and exacerbate dry eye.
  • Slower pupil reaction and decreased contrast sensitivity. This makes it hard for your eyes to adjust to light when Uncle Bill’s old school video camera finds you for his annual holiday interview. Alcohol also makes it difficult to make distinctions between objects based on light and darkness. This is why you kissed your cousin Emily’s cute boyfriend on the nose instead of the cheek. (Sorry, Emily).
  • Eye twitching. Excessive alcohol intake can often lead to eyelid twitching which is not only annoying and distracting but could create a lot of misunderstandings as people may think you are frantically winking at them across the room.

Long-term effects:

  • Studies show that patients with higher alcohol consumption also have increased cataract formation.
  • Increased risk of macular degeneration. This can cause blurry vision and vision loss.
  • Decreased vision. Like everything in our body, eyes need essential vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Heavy drinking affects how the liver absorbs vitamins, so the essential vitamins you need for healthy eyes (like A and B-1) aren’t making it to them. The results of this can start with eye weakness and extend all the way to vision loss.
  • Optic neuropathy. Not only does this lead you to vision loss, but it does so painlessly, so you won’t feel it coming.
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure. Women who are pregnant and drink excessively can permanently affect the eyesight of their child (among all the other health issues).

Excessive drinking can rob you of a lot more than your dignity; it can cost your vision as well as many other health and social issues.

This season, enjoy alcohol in moderation and be sure to have at least one tall glass of water for each cranberry martini you enjoy. Make merry and keep your eyes healthy so you can see all the many blessings we have in our gorgeous world!

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