July 4th 2023

Alcohol Awareness Week 2023

Alcohol Awareness Week runs from 3-9 July and is a UK-wide campaign that is organised by Alcohol Change UK which raises awareness about the potentially damaging effects of drinking too much. In this article, we discuss how reducing your alcohol intake can have a positive effect on your eye and overall health.

According to the World Health Organisation, some 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury can be attributable to alcohol, as measured in disability-adjusted life years (DAL). Indeed, in 2021, there were 20,970 alcohol-related deaths in England, equating to a rate of 38.5 per 100,000 population – according to the Gov.uk website. It is no secret that reducing alcohol intake can have several positive effects on both your eye health and overall well-being. In particular, reducing alcohol use can have a variety of positive effects for your vision in particular.

Over time, consuming alcohol regularly can increase your risk of developing premature cataract formation. This can develop as early as your 40 years of age. Long-term impairments may also include permanent blurring of vision or double vision, which are caused by the weakening of the eye muscles, resulting in a slower reaction time.

One of the most vision-threatening effects of long-term alcohol consumption is optic neuropathy or optic atrophy. This condition can also be referred to as tobacco-alcohol amblyopia, caused by people who drink or smoke excessively. It results in a painless loss of vision, decreased peripheral vision, and reduced colour vision.

Due to the increased risk for heart disease caused by alcohol, signs of heart disease can be observed in the eyes. Symptoms include optic neuropathy, atrophy, bleeding in the retina from vascular occlusions, and even hypertensive retinopathy.

Alcohol is primarily processed by the liver, and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, such as inflammation (hepatitis), fatty liver, or even cirrhosis. A healthy liver is crucial for overall well-being, as it plays a significant role in detoxification and maintaining proper metabolism.

Heavy drinking can also have detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. These conditions can indirectly affect eye health by impacting blood flow to the eyes and optic nerves.

Alcohol disrupts normal sleep patterns and can lead to poor sleep quality, which can affect your overall health and well-being. Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining eye health and ensuring optimal functioning of various bodily systems.

Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with a balanced diet and lead to nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin deficiencies (especially vitamins A and C) that are essential for maintaining eye health. Additionally, alcohol is dehydrating and can contribute to dry eyes, which may cause discomfort and vision problems.

By reducing your alcohol intake, you can mitigate these risks and promote better eye and overall health. It’s important to remember that if you have concerns about your alcohol consumption or its impact on your health, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or seek support from addiction specialists or support groups. For more information about Alcohol Awareness Week visit https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/alcohol-awareness-week-1/about-alcohol-awareness-week


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