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The Christmas decorations have been taken down and New Year is here. We might have over indulged in one too many mince pies and festive drinks, so many of us take on Dry January, the challenge of staying alcohol-free for the whole month. Last year, 88% of participants who took part in Dry January saved money, 71% slept better and 58% lost weight.* So we know that cutting down our drinking has lots of health and lifestyle benefits, how does it affect our eyes?

The effects

Binge drinking can cause a number of problems with eye health, including Dry Eye, a condition where a person’s tears don’t lubricate and nourish the eye, swollen blood vessels in the eyes which can give a bloodshot look, itchiness, irritation, twitching of the eyelid and an increased sensitivity to light. Although these are only minor issues, long term alcohol abuse can actually permanently damage the optic nerves, which are responsible for sending visual information from the eyes to the brain.

More long term effects can include decreased vision due to vitamin deficiency, as heavy drinking affects the absorption of vitamins in the liver, vitamins needed to maintain healthy eyesight. Vitamin deficiencies from alcohol can cause: night blindness, thinning of the cornea, corneal perforation, dryness, and even blindness due to retinal damage.**

The impact of cutting down

Cutting out alcohol as part of Dry January will give your body to chance to stop many of the effects of drinking. After just 24 hours of no alcohol, your blood sugar levels will stabilise and blurred vision caused by alcohol will disappear. Your eyes can also become brighter and whiter, as your body counteracts damage/yellowing of the sclera – the white part of your eye. Circulation will improve, giving your eyes the oxygen and nutrients they need to prevent disease and damage.

Studies have also found that people had higher self-esteem, a better quality social life and were overall more productive life***, so it’s not just your bank balance and liver that will thank you for cutting back with month.

Find out more about Dry January and how you can get involved.

*: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january/why-do-dry-january-1/why-do-dry-january
**: https://coopervision.com/blog/what-effect-alcohol-eye
***: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28940414

 

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