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How Does Alcohol Affect Vision?

Many people realize that drinking excessively can cause physical damage. Medical issues like liver damage are well-known, but a lot of people who abuse alcohol don’t stop to ask themselves, “How does alcohol affect vision?” Your eyesight is one of the most precious parts of your health, and continuing to abuse alcohol can cause it to go downhill. It’s important to understand just how continuing to abuse alcohol can affect your vision. Even more importantly, if alcohol addiction has a grip on your life, it’s time to get professional treatment and become sober.

How Does Alcohol Affect Vision?

While many different kinds of physical damage can result from abusing alcohol, a question many people never consider is “How does alcohol affect vision?” Actually, it happens enough that it’s referred to as “alcoholic eyes”. Damage to vision comes from long-term, heavy alcoholism and can consist of damage that can be temporary or permanent. This makes it important to seek professional treatment before this kind of life-altering damage takes place.

Bloodshot and Dry Eyes

Many people who get drunk even one time or habitually end up having red or bloodshot eyes. While this effect is temporary, it is not a condition that is healthy for a person’s vision. When a person consumes alcohol, it causes the blood vessels in their eyes to enlarge and fill with blood. This creates a bloodshot or red appearance in their eyes and is often a telltale sign to others that the person has been drinking. 

Having bloodshot eyes can also cause dryness of the eyes. This is because alcohol functions as a diuretic, which causes a person to need to urinate frequently. Doing so can make a person become dehydrated, which can cause pain in the eyes. While dryness, irritation, and a painful feeling in the eyes are usually temporary, if the person consumes large amounts of alcohol regularly, they will experience these symptoms quite often. In this case, an eye doctor may need to intervene by providing relief such as prescription eye drops. Alcohol consumption can also make eyes sensitive to light, which can cause a person to develop migraine headaches.

Blurred Vision

Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can cause a person to experience blurred vision. This can be the result of the fact that alcohol raises a person’s blood sugar levels, which can cause blurred vision. Along with that reason, blurred vision can come from the fact that consuming too much alcohol causes a disruption in the normal communication between a person’s brain and their eyes. The pupils take longer to dilate which can cause a person to have difficulty seeing certain colors and shades. This distortion can be particularly damaging when they are performing a potentially dangerous task like driving.


Cataracts are typically more common among people aged 55 or over but can develop in relation to alcohol addiction at a younger age. Alcohol abuse causes nutritional deficiencies, which can affect the development of cataracts.

Optic Neuropathy

This condition causes a person to have trouble telling the difference in colors and lose their peripheral vision. As the disease progresses and alcohol abuse continues, it can result in loss of vision. 

Loss of Eyesight

The scariest of answers to the question “How does alcohol affect vision?” is it can lead to a permanent loss of eyesight. This is because long-term alcohol addiction increases the chances of a person developing conditions such as macular degeneration. As well, alcohol abuse can cause the eye muscles to weaken and the corneas to thin, both of which can contribute to loss of eyesight.

How Does Treatment for Alcohol Addiction Work?

Someone who begins to understand how does alcohol affect vision may make an important connection to knowing they may need to go to alcohol rehab in Atlanta. Recovering from alcoholism begins with a detox program. From there, many people benefit greatly from attending outpatient programs. Choices for this type of treatment include:

The challenges of going through alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be addressed both in detox and outpatient programs. Multiple types of therapy can help treat withdrawal symptoms, including individual, group, and family therapy. Because alcoholism often comes as a result of someone experiencing trauma, it also can be helpful to attend trauma therapy in order to address this. 

Additionally, medication-assisted therapy can make a real difference in a person’s ability to get sober and stay that way. This method involves combining traditional counseling and behavioral therapies with any necessary medications that can help with withdrawal symptoms. These include psychological ones such as depression or anxiety.

Find Alcohol Rehab in Atlanta

Have you developed a problem with abusing alcohol and thought you could control it but now know that you need help? If you want to prevent the development of physical damage or find a way to reduce the damage already developing, it’s important to seek alcohol addiction treatment immediately. Buckhead Behavioral Health in Atlanta provides a robust, effective treatment plan to help you put alcoholism in the past with our detox in Atlanta and inpatient programs.

If you would like more information about getting healthy today, visit our admissions page now.

author review

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Rahul Gupta, MD

Written by: Erika Dalton, LMSW
Updated on January 9, 2023
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