Drinking alcohol regularly has the potential to impact your life in many ways. If you develop an alcohol addiction that is difficult to overcome, you may see how it destroys your relationships, and mental health and leads to life-threatening health issues.

One issue with drinking that is rarely mentioned is how it affects your eyes. If you are worried about your drinking then it’s important to know the relationship between alcohol and eye health, how alcohol impacts vision and what you can do to improve your situation.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Eyes

Drinking large amounts of alcohol can have an effect on your eyes within a few hours, which is why phrases like “blind drunk” exist. These effects will almost always be temporary but drinking heavily and regularly will lead to more serious problems down the line.

Temporary Blurriness

Drinking a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time can lead to a sharp rise in your blood sugar levels, which can contribute to blurred vision. This is more likely to happen if you stick to wine and beer which contain carbohydrates that will contribute to the rise in blood sugar levels. Drinking will also affect how your brain communicates with the rest of your body, slowing processes down that can lead to blurry vision.

Decreased Contrast Sensitivity

Alcohol can affect your ability to discern between shades of colour more precisely. This can be confusing for you and lead to dangerous situations – especially if you for some reason are driving.

Impaired Depth Perception

Alcohol will affect your depth perception as your eye movement is affected. Impaired depth perception will mean that you think things are further away than they are and it is a core reason why driving whilst under the influence is incredibly dangerous.

Eye Muscle Control

Alcohol can impact how well your muscles work, including the ones in your eye. Lack of control with your eye muscles may lead to eye twitching as your optic nerves function more poorly. You may also experience double vision due to a lack of eye muscle control.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on Eye Health

The effects of alcohol on the eyes become more of an issue if you engage in drinking over a long period. Such problems are harder to reverse and may be unavoidable after a certain point. If these effects are a worry, then it might be time to consider professional intervention to help you with your drinking.


Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of your eyes that leads to impaired sight and vision loss. A study in 2021 concluded that those who drank a low amount of alcohol or none at all were at a lower risk of needing cataract surgery. The NHS also states that drinking too much is a risk factor in developing cataracts.

Close up of an eye with cataracts

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

AMD is the development of blurred vision over time due to age. Alcohol can increase the speed of development of AMD, leading to an onset of distorted and blurred vision well before old age.

Optic Neuropathy

Optic neuropathy is an umbrella term to mean any damage that occurs to the optic nerve in your eyes. Damage to your optic nerve can lead to your colour vision being damaged, affecting how your pupils respond to light and causing vision loss. Sustained heavy drinking will lead to nutrient deficiencies and a lack of vitamin B12 and folate can increase the risk of optic neuropathy developing.

Dry eye syndrome is when your eyes stop producing enough tears or the tears produced are compromised. Tears are needed to keep your eyes hydrated and without them, you will suffer from symptoms such as irritation, red eyes, dryness and discomfort.

Alcohol is a diuretic. This means it makes you urinate more and as a result, you become easily dehydrated. Dehydration leads to more salt in your tears. With more salt in your tears, they evaporate quickly ­­and do provide protection or keep your eyes lubricated. This leads to irritation.

Alcohol can also cause a vitamin A deficiency, which plays a vital role in your eye health.

Regular drinking makes it likely that alcohol stays in your system for longer, with traces becoming present in your tears. This will cause damage to the surface layer of your eyes and lead to inflammation.

Making small lifestyle changes can go a long way to preventing alcohol-related eye problems. You shouldn’t wait until drastic action is needed and should consider these changes even if you believe your eye health is fine.

Reduce Drinking

Cutting down on drinking will help lessen the effects of alcohol on the eyes. As explored above, alcohol can impact your eyes in many ways and regular drinking may also lead to addiction. Becoming addicted to alcohol will mean that only your eyes will suffer but potentially every aspect of your life could be ruined. If you are worried about addiction there are ways to reduce your drinking safely that may not require a trip to rehab.

Balanced Diet

A healthy diet is good for every part of your body. Certain foods contain the vital nutrients and vitamins that your eyes need to stay healthy. You should focus on eating fruits and vegetables regularly, and foods such as spinach, leeks, blueberries and peaches are filled with nutrients that are good for your eyes. Anything that includes Vitamin C or Omega 3 is good for battling eye fatigue and dry eye syndrome.

Regular Eye Check-Ups

If you are worried about your alcohol consumption and eye disease then you should keep regular appointments with an optometrist. Just as you go for regular dental appointments and health check-ups, these eye examinations can help find any problems or anything underlying that may be an issue in the future.


Staying active is vital to staying healthy. With more oxygen working in your body, there is less pressure on your eyes. Exercise is also good when dealing with addiction as it is a good distraction and your body releases chemicals that help you feel better.

Regular Sleep

Bad sleep leads to bad eyes. With a lack of sleep, your eyes can become puffy and irritated. Regular sleep allows your eyes to rest and heal, along with the rest of your body.

Learn More About Alcohol Consumption and Eye Health

Hopefully the question, “Can drinking alcohol affect your eyes?” has been answered with a resounding YES. Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol is bad in the short and long-term for your eyes and preventing alcohol-related eye problems is simple with a few lifestyle changes.

If you have more questions about alcohol and your eye health, then contact Addiction Advocates today. We can answer any query and help you find the right alcohol rehab if that is needed.

Call us now at 0800 012 6088 or text HELP to 83222.


  • [1] Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of your eyes - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cataracts/