Dry January - how alcohol affects eye health

Tina Patel Tina Patel
Tuesday, 10 January 2023 Share this blog: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Copy link Copy Link

After the indulgent period of Christmas and New Year’s Eve is over, it’s not surprising that a lot of people choose to take part in Dry January. Alcohol isn’t too harmful in moderation but excessive drinking/binge drinking can harm overall health, including the health of your eyes.

dry january how alcohol affects eye health

What is Dry January?

For those who don’t know, Dry January is a participation event that challenges people to abstain from drinking alcohol for the entire month of January. Dry January has increased in popularity over the years.

With more alcohol-free bars popping up and more alcohol-free/low alcohol alternatives available at supermarkets, limiting your alcohol intake has become more accessible than ever before.

Should I take part in Dry January?

People choose to take part in this challenge for several reasons. Some want to improve their health, others want to save money and some just want to get through January without a hangover. If you want to re-establish a healthy relationship with alcohol, Dry January could be for you.

We’ve listed some positive reasons to get involved in the challenge below.

Dry January could improve long-term drinking habits

This period of abstinence can help some to be more aware of their drinking habits throughout the year. This awareness will hopefully be taken into the new year by participants beyond the month of January too.

Limiting alcohol can improve your health

Excessive alcohol consumption can have many negative effects on your health. The recommended weekly limit is 14 units, and it’s best to spread this over the course of a few days in the week. Drinking more than 14 units a week can increase your risk of developing:

  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Throat, mouth, and breast cancer
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage

Alcohol can also negatively impact your mental health, as some report feeling more anxious, depressed and low in mood the days after drinking.

Can alcohol impact eye health?

Too much alcohol can negatively impact your eye health over time. Short-term effects include:

  • Eye twitching
  • Dry eye
  • Delayed pupil reaction
  • Decreased sensitivity to contrast

The long-term effects that too much alcohol can have on your eyes include:

  • Increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Increased risk of cataracts
  • Optic neuropathy
  • Vision problems related to foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
  • Poor vision (from vitamin deficiency)
  • Yellow sclera

While a healthy lifestyle can still include drinking alcohol, moderation is important. UK guidelines state that adults should not consume more than 14 units of alcohol every seven days, and these should be spread out evenly throughout the week.

Try to have a few alcohol-free days during the week. Mocktails are an excellent way to treat yourself at home or at social occasions as they will make you feel as though you aren’t depriving yourself. Why not give it a try for Dry January?

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