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|Here is a guy who has just drunk lots of alcohol. He SEES that his view is fuzzy. He knows that he is under the influence.|
Consuming alcohol can have short-term negative affects on vision. For a low blood alcohol level, visual performance is less affected by the visual changes than by alteration in brain functions . Brain functions can be impaired by alcohol within minutes of consumption since alcohol is absorbed in the blood and the brain is supplied with more blood than other organs.
When the legal blood-alcohol level is reached and surpassed, depth perception and night vision are affected. It becomes impossible to accurately judge how far away objects are when depth perception deteriorates. Vision becomes blurred or you may see double since eye muscles lose their precision causing them to be unable to focus on the same object.
Alcohol affects night vision by keeping the pupils from adapting from darkness to light. The oncoming headlights of a car will cause a drunk driver to be dazzled much more severely than a sober driver. Alcohol consumption also produces tunnel vision and can make night blindness worse .
Contrast sensitivity can be reduced preventing an intoxicated driver from detecting obstacles in his field of view in some situations. A reduction in contrast sensitivity combined with changes in ocular-motor control and attention deficits may have a strong effect on performance while under the influence of alcohol . During the daytime, under normal driving conditions, reduction in contrast sensitivity might not cause any problems. In more unfavorable conditions, such as fog or at night, alcohol can reduce the visibility of an object to the point of being below the threshold of detectability. Under conditions where an object is moving rapidly with respect to the driver or flickering quickly this deficit is likely to be enhanced .
Alcohol adversely affects performance on many tasks. At moderate blood alcohol levels and possibly lower levels, a slowed perceptual speed is a component of the task performance .
Sometimes seminars are given by local fire or police departments for high school and college students where “Fatal Vision” goggles are used to simulate some of the effects that alcohol has on vision. These goggles give the wearer a blurred and distorted impression of the world around them. When asked to do simple tasks such as dribbling a basketball the goggles made it almost impossible which hopefully leaves a lasting impression of how severely vision can be affected .
There is one eye disorder called tobacco-alcohol amblyopia in which, as the name suggests, alcohol and smoking are believed to be contributing factors.
“Clinical evidence exists that a nutritional deficiency is the underlying cause of this condition; however, many observers still believe that the toxic effects of alcohol and tobacco are contributing factors.
Most patients with tobacco-alcohol amblyopia suffer from severe nutritional depletion, and visual improvement in these patients seems to be related to improved nutrition rather than to abstinence from alcohol. Visual improvement has been observed in patients treated with large does of vitamin B complex who have continued their usual intake of alcohol or continued smoking. A nutritional etiology still cannot be discounted when administration of B vitamins failed to produce improvement, because the degenerative process may have become irreversible by the time treatment was initiated.” .
Wine consumption may lower, rather than raise, the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The findings of one research project show that wine drinkers were 20% less likely to develop AMD than non-drinkers or beer or liquor drinkers . Thus, vision could be affected in a positive way with long-term moderate wine consumption. According to the report, the risk of the elderly contracting macular degeneration, which is an eye disease that can cause blindness, could be lowered from small amounts of wine such as just one glass each month .
1. Effects of low alcohol consumption on visual evoked potential, visual field and contrast sensitivity. Quintyn JC; Massy J; Quillard M; Brasseur G ACTA OPHTHALMOLOGICA SCANDINAVICA. vol. 77, no. 1 (1999 Feb): 23-6.
PURPOSE: We studied changes in the vision of 16 people after consumption of a small of alcohol, at a blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.57 g/kg.CONCLUSION: These results suggest for a low blood alcohol level, visual performance is less affected by the visual changes than by alteration in brain functions.
3. Effects of moderate blood alcohol concentrations on spatial and temporal contrast sensitivity. Pearson P; Timney B JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL. vol. 59, no. 2 (1998 Mar): 163-73.
OBJECTIVE: In order to gain a more complete picture of the influence of alcohol on visual performance, we measured contrast sensitivity for a range of spatial and temporal frequencies in individuals with moderate blood alcohol concentrations (BACs). CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that alcohol produces visual deficits that are not attributable to pursuit eye movements. It is suggested that these visual deficits, combined with changes in ocular-motor control and attentional deficits, may have a strong effect on performance under the influence of alcohol.
5. Effects of alcohol on perceptual speed. Jones MB; Chronister JL; Kennedy RS PERCEPTUAL AND MOTOR SKILLS. vol. 87, no. 3 Pt 2 (1998 Dec): 1247-55.
In moderate to heavy doses, alcohol adversely affects performance on many tasks, and perceptual speed is a component in most performance tasks. 16 men and12 women were administered four temporal-factors tests before and after the ingestion of alcohol. At moderate BACs and possibly at lower ones, the effects of alcohol on task performance appear to be mediated in part by slowed perceptual speed.
7. Spencer, William H. M.D., Ophthalmic Pathology: An Atlas and Textbook, Third
8. Risk of age-related vision loss wanes with wine. Lancet; SCIENCE AND MEDICINE NEWS (1998 Jan): 117