The benefits of reducing or eliminating alcohol on eye health

January is when millions of adults focus on their alcohol intake – and all eyes are on the health benefits associated with a month of drinking. But did you know that health benefits extend to your eye health and vision? (Spoiler alert: and it’s not just about blurred vision while under the influence when it comes to eyes and booze!)

Dr Andy Hepworth from the UK’s leading manufacturer of corrective optical lenses explains some of the lesser known eye health implications of excess alcohol and benefits of Dry January.

It is well documented that the events of the past two years have led to an increase in alcohol sales, but recent figures show an increase in people buying no or low alcohol alternatives and currently millions of people are participating in Dry January 2022 (it is estimated 7.9 million people in the UK plan to participate according to

Although the benefits of not drinking are relatively well known (improvements in your waist, sleep and wallet to name a few), research from the Royal Free Hospital has documented that a month without alcohol also lowers blood, pressure, and reduces the risk. of diabetes, lowers cholesterol and reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.

“Alcohol does have an impact on eyes,” says Dr Andy Hepworth, “and it’s not just the effect of blurred vision while under the influence. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause both short- and long-term effects on your vision and eye health.

“When you drink, you may experience blurred vision because alcohol can cause a delay between the brain and the eyes; your reactions slow down naturally and reflexes slow down. It therefore also affects your pupils, making it more difficult to distinguish between objects based on clarity.

“While symptoms such as the above will usually disappear once the alcohol in your system has diminished, there are some more detrimental consequences for your eye health if you drink excessively in the long run.

“Heavy drinking can affect the absorption of vitamins over time, which leads to a vitamin deficiency which in turn can affect your vision. The liver can process just as much alcohol at a time and heavy drinking can affect the uptake of vitamins into the liver needed to maintain healthy eyes and good eyesight.

“By reducing your alcohol intake, you can lower blood pressure which is excellent for reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke, and it can reduce the potential for hypertensive retinopathy, a condition that damages the blood vessels in your eye. . Reduced alcohol intake or no alcohol at all can also increase your risk of age-related macular degeneration, and reduce your chances of developing cataracts. Both of these eye conditions are closely linked to factors such as alcohol as well as other lifestyle factors.

“Alcohol is a diuretic which means it can dehydrate you. In some cases, dehydration can lead to dry eye syndrome. It can cause irritation and may increase your risk of eye infections. However, within a week of not drinking, your body can undo the effects of dehydration, especially if you drink enough water. ”

Andy concludes:

“With an increase in screen time and missed eye exams over the past two years, our eyes can do a little TLC and Dry January is a good place to start.

“While the above symptoms are usually associated with regular heavy drinking over a long period of time, it is still important to keep an eye on your alcohol intake and what effect it may have on your body. Dry January can give you the opportunity to restore your health, including the health of your eyes. ”

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