Alcohol can affect your body in many ways, from immediate effects to long-term consequences of abuse. Whether you have just a few drinks, or suffer from an alcohol use disorder, alcohol takes its toll on the body.
This extends to your vision and eyesight. Even after just one to a few drinks, your vision may become blurred, along with other side effects, such as slurred speech, slowed reactions, and memory loss or change. As with any substance, our bodies can only metabolize a specific amount of alcohol at a time.
This means that when we abuse alcohol, or drink excessively, our bodies end up with a buildup of it and must try to process it. This is how consequences or adverse side effects can happen. When you think of damage to your body from alcohol, though, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind isn’t how alcohol affects eyesight.
Exactly how much damage can occur to vision and eyesight from alcohol? According to Medical Daily, “many individuals with a lifetime of alcohol abuse and addiction experience eye health problems.”
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The following are ways excessive, long-term alcohol abuse and addiction can affect your vision and eyesight:
- Weakening of the eye muscles: this can affect the eyes permanently, and lead to damage of the optic nerves which communicate with the brain for vision.
- Slowed communication between optic nerves and brain: this slows communication between your eyes and brain, and causes blurred or double vision.
- Slowed reaction time of pupils: this condition affects the ability of the eyes to constrict or dilate properly, and also may affect your ability to see different shades of color.
- Rapid eye movement: a condition which causes involuntary movement of the eyes in a back and forth motion.
- Permanent loss of vision or blindness: this can happen over time with long-term alcohol abuse, and is known as toxic amblyopia.
Other Effects Of Alcohol On The Body
As the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) explains, “drinking too much—on a single occasion or over time—can take a serious toll on your health.”
Some of the organs that may see moderate to severe damage from alcohol abuse include:
- Liver: cirrhosis, fibrosis, fatty liver disease, or alcoholic hepatitis are possible conditions
- Heart: damage to heart muscle, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, or stroke may result
- Pancreas: inflammation and swelling of pancreas, as well as producing toxic waste
- Brain: interrupts normal pathways of communication, and can affect brain function
With changes to the brain can come changes to mood or behavior, and changes to thought processes, including the ability to think clearly. Long-term addiction to alcohol can also increase your risk of development of several types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver, breast, and throat.
Alcohol’s Long-Term Effects On The Brain
The severity of consequences you can experience from alcohol abuse depends on a number of things. However, damage tends to build up over time from repeated and prolonged abuse. You may not see changes to your vision or eyesight if you have engaged in binge drinking a couple of times, but it is possible.
How much you’re affected by drinking can depend on:
- The age you began drinking
- How long you’ve been drinking
- How much you drink daily, weekly, monthly
- If your family has a history of drinking
- Your general state of health
- Other genetic factors, like prenatal exposure to alcohol abuse
One thing is for certain when it comes to the effects of alcohol: prolonged abuse results in more damage. For the brain, this can mean subsequent memory gaps or blackouts, which are times that you drink and have no memory of the events that occurred.
Some of alcohol’s effects on the brain may be indirect. For example, people who have an addiction to alcohol may neglect other aspects of their health, such as proper nutrition. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Many organs in our bodies need adequate levels of certain vitamins to function properly, and this includes the brain.
Why Do People Drink Excessively?
In light of all the damage alcohol can cause, you may wonder why people still have troubles with drinking excessively. It’s true that we all choose the first drink, or the first binge, or even engaging in subsequent binges. Alcohol is a depressant, though. It relaxes your central nervous system, resulting in a calm feeling that may seem desirable at first.
It’s these calm, relaxed results that make you seek alcohol at first. But after a while, binge or excessive drinking becomes a habit. Once you form a habit, your brain begins to change the way it responds to the effects of alcohol. This can cause cravings or urges to drink even after you realize that maybe you should cut back.
To make matters worse, you might become tolerant to the effects of alcohol, and have to drink larger amounts or drink more frequently to get the same results. When you try to cut back or quit, you might experience withdrawal symptoms. It’s withdrawal that gets you: headaches, tremors, nausea, and even feelings of anxiety or depression when not drinking may keep you going back to it long after you decide to stop.
What Can Be Done For Alcohol Abuse?
Approximately 18 million adults struggle with an alcohol use disorder, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Alcohol may still be one of the top substances of abuse in the nation, but every day rehab centers are making strides in helping people overcome alcohol addiction.
Treatment for alcohol addiction begins with detoxification. This process can be severe, and should always be completed under medical supervision. Our rehab centers can provide the quality, experienced medical support you need to make it through detox.
After detox, you can move on to treatment. The type of treatment you receive varies according to your needs: the duration of abuse, severity of damage to your health, any co-occurring disorders or conditions, other trauma, and more.
What Treatments Are Available?
Our rehab centers offer a variety of methods to ensure the greatest opportunity for a well-rounded healing experience. Addiction affects your mind as much as your body, and an excellent treatment program will target all of your treatment needs.
Some of our research-supported treatment modalities include:
- Gender-specific treatment
- Treatment for teens
- Treatment for pregnant women
- Behavioral therapy
- Adventure or wilderness therapy
- Holistic therapy
- Nutrition and exercise guidance
- Aftercare support
Find Help For Alcohol Abuse Today
When we begin drinking for recreation, we may not be thinking about the consequences of alcohol abuse. But addiction to alcohol can have dire effects on your health, including your vision and eyesight. If you’re one of the millions of adults struggling with alcohol abuse, don’t allow alcohol to damage your health any longer.