HOW DOES ALCOHOL AFFECT THE EYES? By Dr. James Ivanoski, Optometrist at Lakeshore Eye Care Professionals with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin

By user-admin
September 19, 2016

Most adults like to have a glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail once in a while.  So how does that drink affect the eyes?

Alcohol is a depressant.  If consumed in excess, it causes our focusing and eye muscle movements to slow down and become less reliable.  This results in focusing difficulty and even double vision which can make depth perception difficult.   It can slow down our pupil reaction speed to changes in light.  This causes a decrease in contrast sensitivity making it harder to see things at dusk or twilight.  It can also make it more difficult for the eyes to readjust from oncoming glare of headlights while driving at night.

A few drinks can make the eyes drier.  Dry eye sufferers may notice that their eyes are significantly drier after drinking.  Alcohol is a vasodilator (blood vessels get swollen).  This causes red eyes.

The way that our body metabolizes alcohol can elevate blood sugar levels.  This can be a problem for diabetics.  It can cause vision fluctuation and increase the risk for diabetic retinopathy (hemorrhages and swelling of the retina).

Alcohol is also toxic.  If consumed in massive quantities at once or over many years, it can have serious detrimental effects to the eye health and vision.  Alcoholics are at risk to develop something called toxic amblyopia.  This is caused by malnutrition and vitamin A and B deficiencies that result from alcoholism.  The optic nerve that brings information from the eye to the brain can be damaged resulting in permanent vision loss.

Most physicians agree that drinking alcoholic beverages occasionally and in small amounts is probably not harmful, but try not to overdo it.

Dr. James Ivanoski

Dr. James Ivanoski is the latest additional to the staff at Lakeshore Eye Care Professionals, joining us in May. He has more than 20 years experience as an eye care provider and has fit in quite well. He specialized in general eye care and contact lens fitting.

For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit

Dr. James Ivanoski's Blogs, General Eye Care, Medical and Surgical Eye Care, Our Doctor's Blogs


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