Alcohol although considered as a social drink in modern day society is known to cause several negative effect on human body. These bad effects can be temporary or permanent. Alcohol consumption can have detrimental effect on several organs of the body, which also includes the eyes.
For a short while after drinking a person can experience blurry vision and on the other hand, long term addiction have permanent deteriorating effect on eyesight and vision. Both, too much drinking for a short time and long term abuse of alcohol is known to cause blindness as it directly harms the optic nerve.
Toxic amblyopia is a medical term used for blindness caused by alcohol. The most effective way to cure the condition is quitting the habit of drinking.
Why Does Drinking Alcohol Can Cause Blindness?
Alcohol is quickly absorbed in the blood as compared to the food that we eat. Consuming alcohol once in a while usually does not produce severe bad effects on eyes. However, this also depends on the amount you drink. It may lead to short term dizziness and blurring of vision. But a short time effect usually subsides after sometime.
At the same time, consuming alcohol regularly and for a long period of time can produce changes that may substantially affect eyesight and vision permanently.Also alcohol consumption for a long time can damage the brain cells. This may have untoward effect on the eyesight giving rise to blurry vision permanently. If the eyes have been damaged due to drinking alcohol, patient is unable to distinguish the contrast in colors.
Alcohol blindness can be caused due to nutritional deficiencies arising from regular consumption of alcohol. Especially vitamin B12 and B2 deficiency due to alcoholism can lead to optic nerve damage which generally is worsens over a period of time and it is irreversible. This may cause progressive blindness.
Another cause of sudden blindness related to alcohol is accidental consumption of methyl alcohol. It may cause severe visual dysfunction and even death of a person. Even small amount of it can cause acute destruction of the central nervous system causing irreversible blindness. Most of the methyl alcohol related blindness is accidental and thus it can be prevented.
Treatment Options For Alcohol Blindness
The best treatment for alcohol related blindness is to avoid drinking alcohol. If alcohol is the cause of under nutrition, person should quit alcohol in first place. He has to eat all nutritious food which consists of vital vitamins and minerals. Especially vitamin B12 and folic acid are essential for people who drink too much. They can also take in supplement form. Sometimes parentral (injection) use of vitamin B12 is more effective than oral supplements.
If methyl alcohol (methanol) is the cause, immediate hospitalization and treatment is important to reduce the risk of blindness and mortality. Patient may need haemodialysis and medications. He needs constant monitoring for vital parameters such as the blood pressure, pulse rate and respiratory rate. They need to get stable. Patient may also be administered intravenous drips to control dehydration.
Visual aids such as magnifying glasses, and low vision aids may be helpful for people who have lost vision due to alcoholism.