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If you’ve ever had a little too much to drink, you’ve probably noticed that alcohol consumption can temporarily affect your vision. Your vision may become blurred, you might see double, or the room might look like it’s spinning, with trails following the lights as you turn. These are all common symptoms of drinking too much alcohol, and if you don’t do it too often, these symptoms will eventually pass and your vision will return to normal when you sober up.

Have you ever wondered what’s going on when you start seeing double, or when you walk from a dark room into a well-lit room and the effect is painful and takes adjusting to? Alcohol consumption can have a number of effects on your vision, including:

POOR VISUAL PERFORMANCE

Heavy alcohol consumption impairs overall brain function, which, in turn, impairs your visual performance. In other words, when your vision blurs and you start seeing double, this is usually due to an impairment in your brain’s ability to coordinate your eye muscles. This is also why you experience delayed reactions and why driving is dangerous.

IMPAIRED PERIPHERAL VISION

If you’ve ever experienced tunnel vision, this is due to alcohol’s detrimental effects on your peripheral vision. You won’t see people or objects as well out of the corners of your eyes, and you’ll only see what’s directly in front of you.

POOR CONTRAST SENSITIVITY

Over time, if you drink excessively on a regular basis, you may notice that you can’t discern contrast between colors as easily as you once did. This can include difficulty with discerning between shades of gray, and can be a major problem when driving, especially at night or in low-visibility situations.

EYE MUSCLE PARALYSIS

Excessive consumption of alcohol over time can cause you to experience deficiency in vitamin B1, which can result in paralysis of the eye muscles and involuntary rapid eye movement. Again, this can be a major issue when driving, as it can affect your vision even when you have not been drinking recently.

OPTIC NEUROPATHY

Given enough alcohol and time, your body will be stripped of nutrients to the point that you’ll experience long-term and even permanent vision loss. Alcoholic optic neuropathy involves the painless, but permanent loss of peripheral vision, reduction of color vision, and overall vision impairment. If you’ve ever experienced tunnel vision or temporary vision impairment when drinking a bit too much, imagine how it would feel to have permanent tunnel vision and lose the ability to discern colors for the rest of your life.

BROKEN BLOOD VESSELS

Drinking too much alcohol can also significantly affect the appearance of your eyes. It can lead to burst blood vessels in the whites of your eyes, causing them to become red and veined.

Like smoking, drinking is not only bad for your overall health, but it can also increase your risk of permanent vision impairment.

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