How does alcohol affect the eyes?

There are many reasons to stop drinking, and damage to vision—whether short- or long-term—is one of them. Whether you consider yourself a “social drinker” or have struggled with alcohol misuse or addiction, consuming any amount of alcohol consistently over time can have negative physical and psychological consequences. Among its short-term effects are blurred vision and double vision, which can be temporary effects of intoxication, although they typically wear off as the person sobers up or the next day.

Understanding the potential risks of alcohol consumption concerning AMD is fundamental for promoting eye health and making better lifestyle choices. Studies suggest alcohol in excess can trigger inflammation, deplete essential nutrients, and lead to adverse health effects. That is because it can disrupt the body’s normal fluid balance and interfere with quality sleep. Which easily exacerbates the appearance of puffiness and undereye dark circles. Having dry skin around the eyes after drinking is also common as a result of dehydration.


Short-term effects may result from intoxication, which people often describe as “being drunk.” This occurs when alcohol affects the central nervous system. A person can become intoxicated even with moderate drinking and may experience temporary disturbances to their vision. One of the most effective ways to prevent or reduce blurry vision after drinking is to consume alcohol in moderation. Drinking in moderation means limiting the amount of alcohol you consume in a single sitting. This can help prevent the drastic impairment of the optic nerve and minimize the occurrence of blurry vision.

  • Tears that evaporate too quickly can’t meet the eyes’ functional needs.
  • Therefore, other binocular vision parameters should also be considered for driving license eye tests, such as stereoacuity and a complete vergence exam, to ensure individuals have a safe level of binocular vision.
  • The higher the concentration of salt in your tears, the faster they’ll evaporate when you blink and distribute them across the surface of your eye.

In this article, we will explore the causes of blurry vision after drinking and discuss whether this effect is temporary or if it can have lasting effects on one’s vision. To avoid the detrimental effects of alcohol on the eyes, it is important to drink in moderation and be aware of the potential risks. If you notice persistent blurry vision or other visual disturbances after consuming alcohol, it is advisable to seek medical attention. An eye doctor can help diagnose any underlying issues and provide appropriate treatment to improve your vision. There is a definite connection between alcohol consumption and dry eyes. Alcohol is a diuretic, increasing urine output and promoting dehydration.

Short-term effects of alcohol on the eyes and sight

The retina—the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye—sends signals about what we see to the brain, where these signals are processed into images. When alcohol is consumed, the brain’s ability to interpret these signals effectively is compromised, particularly in the peripheral areas of our visual field. Consuming alcohol may increase dehydration, promote inflammation, and disrupt vitamin transport — all factors that can negatively affect tear quality and quantity. Long-term excessive drinking can permanently damage your eyesight and can even lead to blindness in some cases. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), is a progressive eye condition.

  • Also, remember to remove your contact lenses before going to bed, as they limit the amount of oxygen reaching your cornea – and may lead to long-term conditions like keratitis (inflammation of the cornea).
  • Eye muscles need to coordinate accurately to focus on objects at different distances, and pupils need to adjust size rapidly in response to changes in light levels.
  • Optic neuropathy refers to damage to the optic nerve, which can cause vision loss.
  • In some cases, paradoxically, dry eyes can lead to watery eyes due to reflex tearing as a response to the eye’s dryness.
  • Optic neuritis refers to inflammation (swelling) and irritation of the optic nerve.

They may also be able to point you to resources to help you cut back or quit drinking to help you improve the health of your eyes and your overall well-being. If you have any eye problems you worry may be related to drinking, talk to your eye doctor. They can do a comprehensive eye exam to look for signs of cataracts, macular degeneration and other problems.

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However, we used a driving simulator because it represents an efficient, applicable, and safe device to assess driving performance8,9,32,50 in both natural and challenging conditions (such as under the influence alcohol). Mean values and standard deviations for distance vertical fusional vergences and Percival’s and Sheard’s criteria, measured at baseline and after alcohol consumption (aAC) for a BrAC of 0.40 mg/l. blurry vision after drinking alcohol Over time, excessive alcohol use can cause lasting damage to the eye that may promote conditions of vision loss and unusual eye movement. Due to conflicting evidence on the role alcohol may play in chronic vision conditions, more research is necessary to clarify the long-term effects of heavy alcohol use on the eyes. The optic nerve is in charge of sending impulses from the retina of the eye to the brain.

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Some individuals may suffer altered perceptions of color and light after drinking alcohol. A drunk person might experience difficulties distinguishing between colors or experience halos around lights as a result of liquor consumption. You may consider first reaching out to a doctor, as they may be able to help determine your medical needs and possibly refer you to treatment centers.

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