Does alcohol affect eyes?

Dear Doctor,

My eyes pain me severely when I drink a lot of alcohol. Is there any connection between boozing and the functioning of eyes? Dennis

Dear Dennis,

Eye problems do occur from drinking alcohol. Alcohol is toxic to the optic nerve (nerve responsible for vision). Drinking regularly can cause some impairment of vision, causing eye pain due to the strain. Eyes work constantly when one is awake, thus even mild visual impairment can cause strain and result into pain. If sleep is disturbed due to alcohol, there can be headache as well as eye pain. Similarly, sleeping after a binge of alcohol would also cause heaviness over eyes, perceived as pain.

Alcohol is also known to be toxic to muscles. Affection of small muscles of eyes can cause pain. The eyes also become red and swollen after drinking due to increase in blood flow in blood vessels caused by alcohol. Some people may be allergic to alcohol or one of the ingredients used for colour or flavour, which can cause redness and pain. Regular use of alcohol depletes the body of essential nutrients, including vitamin B complex, which are vital for maintaining strength of eye muscles. Thus when eye muscles become weak, good coordination and convergence of eyes - which is a requisition for clear vision - is impaired. Slight impairment of vision can cause eye pain. Alcohol is a risk factor for hypertension and diabetes, conditions which increase risk of glaucoma (where pressure of fluid inside eyes is raised). This manifests as chronic eye pain and headache.