Long Term Effects Of Excessive Alcohol Consumption On Your Eyes, And How To Manage Them

Excessive alcohol intake has been linked to many health problems, but did you know that it can also damage your vision? Here are three eye conditions that researchers have linked to alcohol:


Cataract, an eye condition that is characterized by clouded eyes, affects over 22 million Americans. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), high alcohol consumption is one of the factors that increase your risk of developing cataracts.

It's not just you who will be affected; some studies have also linked prenatal alcohol exposure to cataract in babies. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a term that encompasses physical or developmental abnormalities children develop if they are prenatally exposed to alcohol. Cataract formation is one of the FASD your baby can develop.

Surgery is the only way to treat cataract successfully. However, many people with cataract survive for many years without surgical intervention. Such people get along well by using vision aid, eyeglasses.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is deterioration of the macula – tissues at the back of the eye that are sensitive to light and are responsible for central vision. AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness in Americans over the age of 60. Again, AOA considers alcohol as one of the risk factors for AMD, although the exact reason alcohol triggers the condition isn't well known.

Here are the common forms of treatment for AMD:

  • Laser therapy to destroy abnormal blood vessels that contribute to your clouded vision.
  • Injection of anti-angiogenic drugs into the eyes to reduce the leakage of blood vessels and stop the growth of additional blood vessels; the leakage also contributes to clouded vision.
  • Prescription of vitamins, such as vitamins C and E, to reduce the risk of vision loss.

Nutritional Optic Neuropathy

Optic neuropathy, which is also referred to as tobacco-alcohol amblyopia, is an eye condition characterized by painless loss of vision, decreased color vision, or decreased peripheral vision. It is caused by prolonged use of tobacco, prolonged use of alcohol, and the deficiency of certain nutrients, such as B-complex vitamins.

The best treatment for the disease is to stop alcohol and tobacco use. Those who stop taking the substances usually recover in weeks or months, especially if the damage wasn't severe to begin with. Improved diet, especially to include green leafy vegetables, fruits, and use of vitamin supplements, also help.

As you can see, alcohol is no friend to your eyes, especially if you abuse it. All is not lost, however, if alcohol has already caused some damage to your eyes. Eye exams can help determine if you have any alcohol-related vision problems and find a course of treatment.