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Is Drinking Alcohol Bad For Your Eyes?

As well as impacting your overall health, drinking alcohol can affect our eyes.[1] In this blog, we’ll be exploring how drinking alcohol is bad for your Dry Eye Syndrome, and what you can do about it.


What are the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?

Did you know drinking alcohol is linked to dry eyes?[2] Symptoms of Dry Eye can include dry, itchy, gritty, sore and watery eyes, as well as sensitivity to light and blurred vision.[3] For more information on the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome, click here: Symptoms of Dry Eye

Can drinking alcohol affect your eyes?

Yes! Alcohol is known to dehydrate the body and have a negative effect on brain function, plus overall health.[1] But, it can also have a negative effect on our eyes. For people who already suffer from chronic Dry Eye Syndrome, drinking alcohol can increase the risk of symptoms worsening.


Woman rubbing her eyes


Can drinking alcohol cause dry eyes?

Alcohol dehydrates the eyes and makes it even harder for the body to produce enough tears.[4] Repeated consumption can also make it harder to absorb vitamins and maintain a healthy digestion, which can limit how effectively your body regenerates the tissue in your eyes, exacerbating Dry Eye.[5]


Why does alcohol bring on Dry Eye symptoms?

Alcohol increases the sugar level in your blood, which causes the lenses of your eyes to swell, and often results in blurry vision and itchy, irritated eyes.[2] This is why you may have noticed the feeling of dry itchy eyes, or even burning eyes, after drinking alcohol.


White wine


Why do I get blurry vision after drinking alcohol?

As well as causing dry eyes, alcohol can also affect your eye sight. Alcohol can make your eyes red and bloodshot, as well as giving you blurry vision. Long term, alcohol can even cause optic nerve damage and blindness.[6]


Can you reverse eye damage from alcohol?

After 24 hours without drinking alcohol, your blood sugar levels should go back to normal. This means that any impact alcohol has had on your eyes should also normalise. Over the following seven days, your body will rehydrate and Dry Eye symptoms, like itchy eyes, will fade.[2]

If you already suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome, lifestyle changes like reducing your alcohol intake can help manage your condition. For more lifestyle tips for dry eyes, visit our blog: 6 Lifestyle Tips to Help Dry Eye


How do you prevent dry eyes when drinking?

According to DrinkAware, you should have a glass of water between alcoholic drinks. This can help keep your dry eyes more hydrated and minimise health risks. It’s best to also limit the amount of alcohol that you drink.[7]


Man rubbing his eyes


What can you do to minimise symptoms of alcohol related Dry Eye?

You can combat the effects of alcohol on dry eyes! It’s never too late to take action. Follow these tips to minimise symptoms of alcohol related dry eyes:


Reduce your alcohol intake

Reducing the amount that you drink can help to improve your health. When we stop consuming alcohol, our eyes have time to strengthen and protect against macular degeneration, which is a type of eye deterioration common in people over 50 that can result in blurred vision and Dry Eye Syndrome. This is because the body is more hydrated and has better blood flow to the vital organs.[8] Even drinking only on the weekends is a great start to protect your eyes.


Dry Eye


Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is something we all need to try and do, especially because it helps keep your eyes hydrated and protected against Dry Eye Syndrome. Experts recommend between 8-10 glasses a day if you already suffer from dry, itchy eyes.[9]


Dry Eye


Reduce your screen time

Spending less time staring at a phone, tablet, or laptop (whilst sometimes difficult) is another great choice that helps your eyes recover from alcohol damage.[10] The 20:20:20 rule, where you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, is a simple, effective way to cut down on screen time.[11] Take a look at this blog for more information on it.

Staring at screens frequently can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome, another cause of Dry Eye.[12] Read more about the impact of screens on your eyes here: What is Computer Vision Syndrome?


Dry Eye


Maintain a healthy diet, packed full of vitamins

There are various vitamins that you can make part of a balanced diet to improve your eye health. These include Vitamin C and Omega 3, which can help reduce eye fatigue and chronic Dry Eye symptoms.[13] Check out our blog to read more about Dry Eye and vitamins: 6 Vitamins for Dry Eyes


Dry Eye


Stop smoking

Did you know that smoking is 75% more common in people that drink alcohol?[14] It can be tempting to have a cigarette when out in a smoking area, or sitting in a beer garden. However, smoking could also increase your risk of dry eyes.[15] To find out more about the effects of smoking on your eyes, visit our blog: Smoking and Dry Eye


Hands breaking cigarette in half


Follow a three-step treatment plan

A three-step treatment plan is a great way to effectively manage your Dry Eye.

Step 1: If you are suffering from Evaporative Dry Eye or Meibomian Gland Disorder, a heated compress – such as Meibopatch ® – can help to unblock your meibomian glands and relieve your eyes.[16]

Step 2: Cleanse and wipe away the melted oil blocking your glands, as well as any built-up debris, with a cleanser like Naviblef ®, which is specially designed to reduce discomfort.[17]

Step 3: Incorporate an effective lubricant such as any drop from the VISUFarma range. Depending on your condition, you can choose an eye drop that will help ease your symptoms.


Woman drips eye drops into her eyes


For more resources on how alcohol can affect your health, or for help reducing your alcohol intake, you can visit the NHS website: NHS Alcohol Support.

Read more about the causes of dry eyes here: 6 Causes of Dry Eye


In most cases, the best way to treat dry eyes, Also known as dry eye syndrome, is to use eye gel or eye drops.

VisuXL Gel® is a preservative-free smart gel lubricant for dry eye syndrome. It provides comfort in a bottle with it’s long-lasting lubrication properties giving 12-hour dosing with just one drop and is suitable for both day and night use.

VisuXL® is a preservative-free eye drop lubricant for dry eye syndrome. Due to its unique ingredients, VisuXL® will help you recover from eye surgery, an injury or persistent damaging dry eye.

VisuEvo® is a preservative-free eye drop that prevents excessive evaporation of the tear film. Its unique formula contains omega-3 essential fatty acids, Vitamins A and D and ultra-filtered phospholipids that facilitate tear film presentation and control evaporation.

All three products are contact lens-friendly and can be used for 180 days after opening.

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  1. Pietrangelo, A. Raypole. ‘What are the Effects of Alcohol on the body?’, 06/06/22. Accessed December 2021.
  2. Farrier and Mackinnion Optometrists. Accessed November 2021.
  3. NHS, ‘Dry Eyes’, Healthline, 01/04/2020. Accessed May 2022.
  4. You, Young-Sheng, Qu, Nai-Bin, Yu, Xiao-Ning, ‘Alcohol consumption and dry eye syndrome: a Meta-analysis’, International Journal of Ophthalmology, 2016; 9(10): 1487–1492. Accessed December 2021.
  5. Pfitscher, S. ‘The Effects of Alcohol on Your Vision’, Lenstore Vision Hub, 13/02/21. Accessed Dec 2021.
  6. Complete Eye Care, ‘Potential Alcohol Effects on Vision & Eye Health’, 08/07/22. Accessed March 2023.
  7. DrinkAware, ‘Binge drinking’. Accessed March 2023.
  8. Jacci, ‘10 Negative Effects Alcohol Has on the Eyes’, Ultralase, 30/12/19. Accessed Dec 2021.
  9. Complete Eye Care, ‘How Does Hydration Affect My Eyes’. Accessed September 2021.
  10. Wheeler, Regina Boyle, ‘Dry Eye and Screen Use’, WebMD, 21/06/21. Accessed October 2021.
  11. Marcin, A. ‘How Does the 20-20-20 Rule Prevent Eye Strain?’, Healthline. Accessed May 2022.
  12. Watson, S. ‘What Is Computer Vision Syndrome’, WebMD. Accessed May 2022.
  13. Porter, D.Gregori, Ninel, Z. ‘Diet and Nutrition’, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 11/20. Accessed Sep 2021.
  14. Shiffman, S. Balabanis, M. ‘Do Drinking and Smoking Go Together?’, Alcohol Health Res World, 1996; 20(2): 107–110. Accessed March 2023.
  15. Li Xu, Wei Zhang, Xiao-Yu Zhu, Tao Suo, Xian-Qun Fan, and Yao Fu, ‘Smoking and the Risk of Dry Eye: a Meta-Analysis’, Int J Ophthalmol. 2016; 9(10): 1480–1486. Accessed March 2023.
  16. MeiboPatch® Instructions for Use (IFU). Accessed April 2022.
  17. Naviblef ® Instructions for Use (IFU), Accessed April 2022.
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