How alcohol can affect your eyesight
Drinking alcohol responsibly in moderate amounts doesn’t usually have long-term effects on your eyes. However, alcohol is a toxin that affects the body, including the eyes, in many ways. It can cause short-term side effects such as blurred and double vision.
Excessive alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, can have more serious consequences over time, with long-term effects on your eyes. Some eye conditions can develop earlier in people who drink alcohol to excess.
Can alcohol affect your eyes?
Alcohol is a toxin that stays in the body until the liver can clear it. Alcohol affects the eyes directly, for example, dilating blood vessels. It also affects how our brains work. Since our eyes and brain work together to produce the images we see, alcohol can affect vision. Long-term, alcohol can interfere with the absorption of the nutrients we need for good eye health, such as vitamin A.
Alcohol short and long-term effects
Drinking alcohol affects the body and brain, and heavy drinking can have long term effects on your health, including your eyesight. You can keep the health risks low from drinking alcohol by following NHS guidance about alcohol intake. Advice includes drinking no more than 14 units a week regularly, having a few drink-free days each week, and spreading your intake over several days.
Alcohol and eyesight loss
Long-term excessive alcohol consumption can lead to, or worsen, some eye conditions associated with sight loss. Heavy alcohol intake reduces oxygen to the eye and affects how the body absorbs the nutrients it needs for health. Eye conditions that can be more likely or worsen through long-term alcohol abuse include:
Frequently asked questions
Excessive alcohol consumption can affect your eye health. Short-term, alcohol can directly affect your eyes and vision after drinking large amounts. Long-term, an excessive amount of alcohol is associated with a higher risk of a range of eye conditions. In line with NHS guidance, drinking in moderation can help lower the risk of side effects and contribute to better eye health. If you want support to cut back or stop drinking, you can talk to your GP.
Medically reviewed by: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists on 23/08/2022
Edited by: Nick Astbury FRCS FRCOphth FRCP
Clinical Associate Professor
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology and is the only professional membership body for medically qualified ophthalmologists. The RCOphth is unable to offer direct advice to patients. If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, you should seek medical advice from your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.