Excessive alcohol consumption comes with numerous physical dangers and
health risks. Commonly known health risks associated with alcohol abuse
include: neurological problems, heart disease, cancer and liver disease.
One lesser-known health consequence of excessive alcohol consumption is
How does alcohol affect eyesight?
Optic neuropathy or “alcoholic optic neuritis,” is perhaps
the most serious
eye condition caused by excessive alcohol consumption. This condition affects the central
visual field and how well one sees and differentiates between colors.
Smoking can also lead to optic neuropathy. Over time, this condition can
result in total vision loss or blindness.
Another vision problem related to alcohol use is a decrease in contrast
sensitivity. Essentially, someone with low contrast sensitivity may have
a difficult time distinguishing between different shades of gray. This
can be a dangerous vision problem as it can affect ability to drive in
rainy or foggy conditions.
Alcohol also affects how quickly the pupils respond to changes in lighting.
In a healthy eye, the pupil constricts and dilates rapidly under a change
in lighting conditions. When this reaction is damaged by alcohol use,
the pupils respond slowly to changes in lighting, which can affect the
ability to see the headlights of other vehicles or road signs when driving.
These aren’t the only ways in which alcohol can affect your eyesight.
Alcohol use may also cause:
- Dry eyes
- Eyelid twitching
- Short-term double vision
- Inflammation in the eye causing ocular rosacea
How much alcohol is too much?
Rather than asking the question “how much alcohol can I drink before
it affects my health or vision?” set your mind to moderate your
alcohol use. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more
than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for
men. (12 fluid ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled
spirits equal one drink.) Keep in mind all of the dangerous health consequences
of alcohol use, including liver failure, cancer, heart disease and vision
problems. Loss of vision due to alcohol use results in numerous physical
hazards. If you can’t see clearly, you will have difficulty driving,
walking across the street, or even moving around your own home.
If you are experiencing trouble with your vision, whether you drink alcohol
or not, it’s important to have your eyes examined. Vision problems
may be an indicator of a more serious problem that could result in total
loss of vision. Don’t wait. Call the
eye health experts at Key-Whitman Eye Center today.