If you are an individual who often drinks alcohol, then you likely understand that alcohol affects the body in a variety of ways. Alcohol use can lead to poor liver and kidney function, and it can cause cardiovascular ailments. You may not know that alcohol can also affect the eyes. Keep reading to learn how so you can discuss possible issues with your eye doctor during your next exam.
Your eyes require a variety of vitamins and nutrients to function properly. Two of the most important vitamins include B and A, and both of these vitamins are absorbed with the assistance of your liver. However, when you drink alcohol, your liver works to filter the ethanol from your bloodstream. This compromises your liver's ability to absorb nutrients and may lead to vitamin deficiencies.
Vitamin B deficiencies are extremely common, and they are even more likely if you consume alcohol. A deficiency of B vitamins can lead to the poor function of the muscles that surround the eyes. Weaknesses can occur, and in severe cases, the muscles may become paralyzed.
Vitamin A deficiencies can lead to poor night vision, dryness, and retina damage. Damage to the retina can lead to blind spots and blindness.
Also, alcohol consumption can lead to dry eyes due to dehydration and the poor function of the lacrimal glands. Since the tears contain natural enzymes that help to fight off pathogens, eye infections can develop if the lacrimal glands do not produce enough tears.
Optic Nerve Damage
Alcohol can have a fairly large effect on the eyes, and it can cause damage to the optic nerve as well. Specifically, a condition called optic neuritis can develop where the optic nerve is damaged. This is seen along the outside of the nerve itself where the myelin sheath has been damaged. This sheath protects the nerve and allows for the clear and distinct movement of electrical messages to and from the eye.
Without the myelin sheath, messages and impulses weaken and transmit poorly, and you are likely to notice some serious vision problems. Double vision, acuity issues, and poor color vision can all occur.
Toxic neurosis issues like the ones caused by the consumption of alcohol can be treated with steroids. This can reduce the swelling around the optic nerve. However, the damage is often long-term and alcohol cessation is required to minimize future damage.
If you want to know more about alcohol consumption and how it may affect your eyes, speak with a professional optometrist or ophthalmologist, like those at Advanced Eye Care & Surgery Center.