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Brits are risking their eyesight and appearance by increased alcohol consumption

Modern day life can be stressful and it is common for many to reward themselves with a glass of wine or a pint at the pub after a long day at work. But when drinking becomes more regular, and for prolonged periods of time, there is a risk of long-term damage to both eyesight and physical appearance.

We are warning of the dangers this Alcohol Awareness Week, which this year runs from 11th to 17th November. The week aims to raise awareness of the issue and to help people ‘get thinking about drinking’. The theme for this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week is ‘Alcohol and Me’ which challenges people to consider their own drinking behaviours and if it could be time to make a change.

People are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of alcohol abuse on the body and long-term health, but not everyone is as knowledgeable about the detrimental effect of alcohol on your eyes and even your appearance.   

Clinical Governance Manager, Amy Laux explains, “Alongside making us feel tired and run-down, it is common to experience red-eyes after indulging in large amounts of alcohol because it causes the blood vessels in the eye to dilate, which makes them appear more prominent. Alcohol is also a proven contributor to liver disease which commonly affects the white of the eye, known as the sclera, making it appear yellow in colour.”

Not everyone will have experienced a change in eye colour, however a lot of Brits will understand the discomfort of the hangover which follows a heavy period of drinking. As the alcohol remains in your system, it can trigger light sensitivity within the eyes, which can then result in a painful migraine headache. Another painful symptom of the hangover is irritable, gritty and dry eyes.

The symptoms of dry eye can be relieved with the use of lubricating eye drops. In some cases, therapeutic procedures such as Lipiflow can provide a prolonged reduction in symptoms and reduce the reliance on eye drops. Lipiflow applies gentle heat whilst massaging the eyelids and is available at Optical Express.

The dangers don’t stop at hangovers and dry eyes. Prolonged periods of heavy binge drinking can have a massive impact on our general health alongside our eye health and can result in serious conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts and optic neuropathy, all of which can lead to blindness.  

Amy also warns that “Toxins in alcohol can damage the optic nerve and affect vision as alcohol reduces brain activity which can lead to poor co-ordination in eye muscles, causing distorted, or sometimes double vision.”

This Alcohol Awareness Week and the upcoming festive season, Amy advises: “Although it can be difficult to resist drinking heavily around the November/ December festive period, to keep health risks to a low level, we recommend following the UK government advice and to keep alcohol consumption within 14 units per week.

“To help maintain good eye health, we recommend you have an eye test at least once every two years as routine eye examinations can help detect early signs of eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts plus the early signs of general health conditions such as diabetes.”

If you are worried about your eye health or are experiencing problems with your vision, then please book an eye test at your local Optical Express.

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