why do you see double when drunk

Most of us are well aware of the detrimental impact alcohol abuse. At the less extreme end of the spectrum we understand that being even slightly intoxicated causes blurry, distorted vision, but what are the real physiological consequences to our eyes? Alcohol does have short term vision-altering effects, but excessive consumption can lead to long term, life-changing eye conditions. Both long term alcohol abuse and short term excessive alcohol use can lead to permanent loss of vision owing to the direct effect of alcohol on the optic nerves. These are the nerves that carry the vision from the yes to the brain. Whilst it is the eyes that do the вlookingв, it is the brain that does the вseeingв. Toxic amblyopia is the term used to describe permanent loss of vision and blindness caused by alcohol. Consuming alcohol in moderation will not have any lasting negative effects on your eyes. The way your body responds to alcohol depends on the amount consumed and your tolerance threshold, but you will most likely experience some dizziness and blurry vision.


These symptoms will likely stop shortly after a drinking episode if you do not consume too heavily. If you regularly drink large volumes of alcohol, youвre at a higher risk of developing eye conditions that will alter your vision and cause permanent damage. Repeated episodes of heavy drinking puts significant strain on the liver and, just as the eye is associated with many other organs of the body, heavy drinkers will be more prone to eye conditions and declining eyesight. Alcohol also slows the pace of communication between neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that communicate information around the brain and to the body. The delay in communication between the brain and the eyes means that they are not able to function effectively which weakens the eye muscle coordination. This is what causes distorted or double vision. Excessive drinking also decreases the reaction time of your pupils, meaning that they are unable to constrict or dilate when reacting to ambient light levels and impairs the ability see contrasting colours or different shades of similar colours.


You can avoid these side-effects by drinking occasionally and in moderation. Pace yourself (it is recommended to limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage per hour), never drink on an empty stomach and consume plenty of water in between alcoholic drinks in order to prevent intoxication. Our bodies are all different, meaning our reactions to alcohol will also be extremely varied, but itвs wise to always consider the recommended units of alcohol. For men it is advised to consume no more than 4 units in one day and 21 units per week, for women the recommended limit is 3 units a day and 14 units per week. Sticking to these guidelines will help you maintain bright, healthy eyes. Alexander Ionides BSc FRCOphth MD is a Consultant Ophthalmologist atВ
On the rare occasion that I have too many drinks, I get double vision. Why? It is particularly problematic watching late-night TV. Closing or covering one eye seems to fix it, so I'm considering getting an eye patch. "It's clear that acute alcohol ingestion does cause double vision," Bruce Martin, a physiology professor at Indiana University, tells AF. "We think it has to do with the effects of the alcohol on the brain and the brain stem and the nerves that control your eye movements and tracking.


It slows down the brain so you can't get the eyes tracking on something quickly. The time it takes to get your two eyes Б their images Б to fuse to give you a single image increases when you drink. " Professor Martin adds that this increase in the time it takes both eyes to fuse an image is a far more urgent issue in your car than on your couch, depending on your roommate's level of drunken hostility. "When things are coming into your vision suddenly, you want to be able to figure out where they are and how fast they're moving Б quickly. " Covering one eye can help, he notes, "because then you don't have your brain comparing the two images. You just have the one image. " Which makes you a perfect candidate for an eye patch Б or, if Jimmy Fallon's on, two. Got a question? Send it to. RELATED STORIES: REVIEW: PLUS:

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