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Crucial Information on the Connections Between Eyesight Conditions and Alcohol Use

Surveys indicate that sight is the most valued of the five primary human senses, but you may not think about your eyes when considering the effects of alcohol on your body. The reality is that alcohol influences your entire anatomy, including the eyes.

Optical damage can be a critical consequence of an alcohol disorder. You should understand the warning signs of eye troubles from alcohol abuse and what you can do to prevent or reverse the damage.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Eyes?

Short-Term Effects

Overindulgence in stiff drinks can cause hours of impairment to your eyes. You must avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or participating in another hazardous activity after partaking in alcohol because of poorer vision and reaction time.

The calories in alcoholic drinks are “empty,” meaning they contain little nutritional value. Your body stores these calories and doesn’t burn them. This reaction raises your blood sugar levels while your body metabolizes the alcohol. These blood sugar spikes cause blurry vision, which becomes more dangerous when you combine the effects with reduced visibility during evening darkness.

Your peripheral vision also diminishes during inebriation. Vision is a complex process involving rapid communication between your eyes and brain. Alcohol slows all of your cells, so your mind struggles to process visual cues. The resultant tunnel vision restricts your field of view. Eyelid twitching can occur, giving you less control over your eyesight. Distracting light sensitivity and migraines may follow.

Your reduced reaction time also makes your pupils less responsive, and they can’t dilate or constrict properly. Your eyes adjust slowly to bright light, causing temporary sightlessness. Researchers have also determined that this delayed adjustment leads to a loss of contrast, and you can no longer discern the differences between specific shades and colors.

Alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to urinate more often. The substance also inhibits the release of water reabsorption hormones, so your body dehydrates quickly. Dehydration causes dryness throughout the body, including in your eyes. You may then experience eye irritation and pain.

Count on a worsened personal appearance in addition to impaired vision after over-imbibing. The inflammation from liquor swells your blood vessels, leaving you with bloodshot or red eyes.

Long-Term Consequences

The expression “alcoholic eyes” refers to perpetually bloodshot or yellow-tinted eyes. The aggravated appearance is only the beginning of ocular problems chronic drinkers may cope with.

Continually excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of age-related cataract formation, with the illness displaying in individuals as young as 40. The threat of macular degeneration also increases.

Short-term effects of heavy drinking can become long-term impairments. A person may suffer permanent double vision or blurring because of weaker eye muscles resulting from an alcohol-induced thiamine deficiency.

Alcohol abuse also correlates to a lack of vitamin A in the body. The condition causes continual dryness, night blindness, a thinning cornea, corneal perforation, and blindness from retinal damage.

Optic neuropathy is another significant concern for sufferers of alcoholism. Nerve damage is common among lifelong over-drinkers, resulting in tremors and shaky limbs. The eyes also suffer nerve damage, causing vision loss. The reasons are unclear but seem to arise from nutritional deficiencies triggered by alcohol use.

Can Moonshine Cause Blindness?

During Prohibition in the U.S., the country saw an increase in homemade stills for moonshine production. Experts received confirmation of their worst fears when thousands suffered blindness or paralysis after drinking the spirit. Researchers estimate that hundreds died from the concoctions.

The reasons for these detrimental effects lie in the beverage’s creation. Methanol is a natural byproduct of distillation, and well-trained distillers know to remove the bulk of the hazardous chemical. Various amateur moonshiners made mistakes that allowed the dangerous methanol to remain in some batches. Others created formulations to be particularly strong and produced drinks with excess methanol.

Your body safely digests moderate amounts of ethanol in alcoholic drinks. A comparable level of methanol can prove lethal since your system converts the poison into formaldehyde. Once flowing through the veins, the chemical attacks the nervous system, including the optic nerve. A mere 10 milliliters of methanol can cause permanent blindness. Experts also link lead poisoning to blindness, and many early distillers may have built their stills out of the material.

A properly distilled alcohol will not lead to immediate vision loss when a person consumes the drink in moderation. Partakers do well to avoid liquor from an unknown or questionable source.

Does Eyesight Improve After Quitting Drinking?

You most likely won’t change your vision prescription if you give up or cut back on alcohol, but even a few weeks of abstinence can benefit your eye health. Notice the following progression that many experience.

First Day

After a night of bingeing, you can expect eyelid and lens swelling to continue limiting your vision for 24 hours. If you abstain for an entire day, your sight should normalize as your blood sugar stabilizes.

First Week

The dehydration from heavy drinking can continue for a few days. Your gastrointestinal system may be out of balance, and you’ll probably make frequent visits to the restroom, sustaining the dry feeling.

This dehydration leaves you with dry eyes because you lack the fluid necessary for tears that hydrate your eyeballs. The irritation can lead to blurry vision and raise the risk of infection. As you approach the end of the week, your hydration levels return to normal, and your eyes lubricate properly.

Second Week

Your blood pressure takes about two weeks to recalibrate after a pattern of overindulgence. High blood pressure often results in hypertension, which can induce hypertensive retinopathy. The condition damages blood vessels in your retina, the back area of your eye that puts images in focus.

You may lose some weight as you near two weeks of no drinking. The shed pounds can further assist with lowering your blood pressure.

Third and Fourth Weeks

If you have spent many years drinking heavily, you may have liver damage. Such troubles manifest in the yellowing of the eyes. The liver cleans your blood and removes old red blood cells, but alcohol impairs its function. The appendage cannot clear out the old red blood cells, and the build-up causes the yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Weeks without alcohol allow your liver to return to full functionality.

One Month

After one month without alcohol, your body prospers from improved blood flow and oxygen supply to the organs. The liver refreshes red blood cells, and your eyes feel the full benefits. Healthy circulation supplies your eyes with sufficient oxygen and nutrients to fight damage and disease, such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

What Treatments Are Available for Alcoholic Eyes?

Search as you may; no surgery or medication is available to reverse the effects of alcoholic eyes. Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to alcohol and damaged vision. Individuals suffering from alcohol addiction must consider professional help to detox and recover from harm to their bodies.

Eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration have no cure. Doctors work to catch the conditions in their early stages to slow or prevent vision loss.

Short-term effects of alcohol typically resolve with time. Since the impact on your eyes come from internal bodily reactions, there is little you can do to cure the redness, itchiness, and swelling except to wait. However, you can try the following home remedies to minimize the symptoms.

Eye Drops and Lubricants

You may be able to alleviate bloodshot, red, or dry eyes with lubricating drops. Some types have preservatives, which can worsen dry eyes for individuals allergic to the contents.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel has astringent properties that can help your eyes appear more lively. Astringents draw out water, lighten redness, and often are an ingredient of eye drops. Moisten cotton balls with witch hazel extract and hold them over your eyes for about 10 minutes. You might also use the witch hazel formula for a homemade rinse.

Apple Cider Vinegar

One tablespoon of ACV in a cup of water creates a refreshing rinse with malic acid that decreases alcohol’s impact on your eyes. Use the rinse two to three times daily.

Cold Bread Press

Bread is a foam that has more uses than food. Press a cold slice from the refrigerator to your eyes. The action can mitigate swelling, itching, and redness.

Cold Spoon Compress

Lowering the temperature of the eye offers relief from itchiness and constricts the blood vessels to decrease redness. Clean four tablespoons thoroughly and leave them in a freezer for a few minutes. Remove two spoons when they are tolerably cold but not frozen.

Rest the bottom of the bowls of the spoons against your eyelids. Sit back and relax with the utensils on your eyes until they become warm. Replace the warm spoons with the two that are cooling and repeat the process for up to 20 minutes. If you don’t have access to a freezer, use fresh ice water.

Baking Soda Rinse

Rinse your eyes with a solution of one-fourth of a tablespoon of baking soda in one-half of a cup of water. The baking soda cleanses your eyes and soothes the redness.

Chamomile and Fennel Eye Bath

Boil chamomile and crushed fennel seeds in water. Strain after steeping for 30 minutes. Cool the liquid in the refrigerator for later use as an eye bath.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Eyes of a Developing Fetus?

Medical professionals warn pregnant women against alcohol use. Anything the mother ingests passes through the umbilical cord to the unborn child, and drinking alcoholic beverages puts the child at risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

FAS can lead to various congenital disabilities, including vision problems. The optic nerve may not develop correctly, and the baby may struggle with eye coordination. A toddler may also have a smaller head or distinctive facial features that interfere with good vision, such as drooping eyelids.

Alcohol can induce preterm labor. Premature babies can have developmental issues from brain abnormalities or an underdeveloped brain. Such cognitive problems can impair a child’s vision. Symptoms of FAS tend to worsen with age, so a child’s eyesight is unlikely to improve over time.

Can Alcohol Be Good for Your Eyes?

Studies on red wine indicate that moderate consumption may correlate to ocular health benefits. The key lies in moderation, which health professionals often define as one or two glasses a day maximum.

A five-year study compared regular consumers of alcohol, light drinkers, former drinkers, and lifetime abstainers. Moderate drinkers of red wine seemed to have a decreased risk of cataract formation and age-related macular degeneration. The conclusions suggested that the results came from the antioxidants in red wine, and further animal trials supported the idea.

Evidence suggests that hard liquor and beer do little to reduce eye issues. In fact, the drinks seemed to lessen any positive associations when participants regularly consumed them with wine.

Researchers often connect the health benefits of red wine to resveratrol, a polyphenol found in grape skins that acts as an antioxidant. This biochemical fights inflammation and cell death. Concentrations of other natural essential compounds may also support eye health.

Resveratrol finds its highest concentration in red wine, though it also exists in white wine. Those who abstain from alcohol can easily access the same benefits because resveratrol is present in grape juice, nuts, and berries. Other studies indicate that non-alcoholic red wine offers higher health benefits than alcoholic varieties.

Of particular interest is that the mice and rats used in the studies did not consume alcohol but received injections of the natural compounds thought to be responsible for the positive associations. The doses were often higher than what could be safely consumed through wine consumption. You can obtain an even more concentrated supply of wine’s antioxidants and vitamins through pills and powder supplements. Only use such supplements under the advisement of your physician or nutritionist.

How Should You Take Care of Your Eyes?

Remain alert to signs that you have an eye disease. Poor vision or decreased function can signal a problem. Optometrists recommend yearly eye checks or as often as your health care provider directs.

A nutritious diet ensures you have the essential nutrients for healthy eyes. Regular exercise reduces the risk of high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure — conditions that raise your risk of eye problems.

Protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV radiation, and wear protective eye gear when engaging in sports, doing home repairs, or working hazardous jobs.

Rest your eyes every 20 minutes if you work for hours at a screen. Look away for 20 seconds at a spot about 20 feet in front of you to refresh your vision.

Practice good eye hygiene if you wear contacts. Only insert or remove lenses with clean hands. Replace your contacts per the instructions and never sleep while wearing them unless the manufacturer states it is permissible.

Know your family medical history and avoid other risk factors. You may need to increase checkups as you age. Substance abuse will only impair your eyes, so avoid smoking and illicit drugs. Alcohol not only causes physiological problems to your eyes, but your lowered inhibitions can incite you to dangerous activities that result in bodily harm, including eye injury.

What Can You Drink Instead of Alcohol?

Appreciation for the dangers of alcoholism has led to greater sensitivity in many communities, and you can find plenty of fun beverages for celebrating. If you have a problem with alcohol, substitute hard drinks with another refreshment you can enjoy while socializing or relaxing alone.

If you genuinely enjoy the flavor of stiff drinks, alcohol-free beer, wine, or spirits can be an alternative, as can mocktails. However, if your struggle is at the level of addiction, you may need to avoid these options since they could trigger cravings and relapse. Some brands of non-alcoholic beer and wine have trace amounts of alcohol, which may be enough to encourage experimenting again with harder drinks.

Coffee and tea are delicious brewed options you can enjoy hot or iced. Coffee offers different blends for bolder tastes, and tea comes in fruity, floral, spicy, and sweet varieties. A dash of flavored syrup can enhance the beverage. Kombucha is a fermented tea with a delightful effervescence, but be aware it can have a negligible amount of alcohol.

Fruit and herb-infused water is a health-conscious option. Spiced apple cider is a suitable replacement with some kick. The social drink is delightful when served hot on cool evenings.

Some studies indicate that plain seltzer can aid with sugar cravings and serve as a healthy substitute for other addictive behaviors. You could also use plain mineral or fizzy water to cut the sweetness in sugary juices and add some bubbly excitement to virgin beverages. Many flavored sparkling water brands are sugarless, allowing you to enjoy a treat without fattening calories. 

Do You or a Loved One Need Help?

Alcohol abuse can lead to eyesight difficulties ranging from mild to severe and may cause many other health complications. If you discern signs of alcohol use disorder in yourself or a loved one, seek professional assistance. Reach out to the supportive team at Clean Recovery Centers for more information on practical treatments that help sufferers regain control of their lives and health.

Sources:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777262/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8126742/
  • https://www.completeeyecare.net/potential-alcohol-effects-on-vision-eye-health/
  • https://www2.hse.ie/healthy-you/alcohol-blogs/7-things-to-know-about-alcohol-and-your-weight.html
  • https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0140169
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25785534/
  • https://moonshinedistiller.com/distilling-info/can-moonshine-make-you-blind
  • https://gardenandgun.com/articles/will-drinking-moonshine-make-go-blind/
  • https://www.bijojournal.org/article.asp?issn=1858-6538;year=2018;volume=5;issue=1;spage=12;epage=18;aulast=Elsir
  • https://www.reviewofoptometry.com/article/a-toast-to-wine-and-your-ocular-health
  • https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/study-red-wine-is-healthier-when-its-non-alcoholic-sorry/262128/
  • https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/how-does-seltzer-manage-to-trick-your-brain
  • https://www.kinglasik.com/blog/bloodshot-eyes-from-too-much-alcohol-here-are-some-post-party-remedies/
  • https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/agerelated-macular-degeneration-amd
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372846
  • https://www.cleanrecoverycenters.com/addiction/alcohol/detox-recovery/
  • https://medlineplus.gov/eyecare.html
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fetal-alcohol-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20352901

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