Substance Use

Can Alcohol Cause Bloodshot Eyes: Should I Be Concerned?

woman with bloodshot eyes from drinking

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

Is Alcohol Consumption Causing My Bloodshot Eyes?

Alcohol consumption can have a range of effects on the eyes, including double vision, blurred vision, dry eye syndrome, and bloodshot eyes. While it may be easy to dismiss eye conditions and assume the symptoms are due to allergies or fatigue, knowing if and how alcohol is causing your red eyes is important for both short- and long-term health.

Is chronic alcohol abuse an issue for you or someone you know? Zinnia Health makes quitting alcohol a viable option. Our specialized addiction treatment programs focus on holistic healing, so you can give yourself the best chance for a successful recovery. Call our 24/7 helpline 24/7 at (855) 430-9439.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us

Alcohol and Bloodshot Eyes

Alcohol consumption can cause bloodshot eyes due to the dilation of blood vessels in the eyes. This is a common side effect of drinking alcohol, and it usually resolves itself within a few hours.

Increased blood flow to the eye area causes bloodshot eyes, which is triggered by alcohol’s tendency to dilate blood vessels in general. When this happens, tiny capillaries near the surface of your eye become enlarged and more visible, giving them a red or pinkish hue.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), bloodshot eyes are a warning sign that your child may be drinking alcohol.

How Do You Prevent Red Eyes When Drinking?

The following tips may help reduce the chances of developing red eyes when drinking.

1. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption is one of the most common causes of red eyes. To prevent bloodshot eyes, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. However, for those who struggle with addiction or are in social situations where alcohol is present, avoiding it can be difficult.

You can limit alcohol consumption by setting a goal to drink only one drink per hour and sip non-alcoholic beverages between alcoholic drinks.

2. Stay Hydrated

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more than if you were drinking water. Staying hydrated is essential for overall health, but it can also help reduce the risk of red eyes when drinking alcohol.

Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out toxins, which can help prevent blood vessel dilation and reduce red eyes.

3. Use Eye Drops

Eye drops are another way to help reduce redness caused by drinking alcohol. Over-the-counter eye drops can temporarily relieve dryness and irritation associated with bloodshot eyes due to excessive drinking or contact lens use during a night out at a bar or clubbing event.

It’s important not to rely too heavily on these products, though, since they only offer short-term relief. If symptoms persist after using them, seek medical attention immediately, as there could be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed before any long-term damage occurs.

Other Causes of Bloodshot Eyes

Other causes for bloodshot eyes include:

  • Environmental factors such as dust particles, pollen grains, or chemical irritants like chlorine found in swimming pools that come into contact with our delicate eye tissue
  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight without adequate protection, especially during summer months when UV rays are at their peak intensity levels
  • Drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and other stimulants
  • Allergens like pet dander, dust mites, or feathers
  • Eye strain due to excessive use of computers or cell phones
  • Lack of sleep
  • Smoking cigarettes

What Is the Treatment for Bloodshot Eyes?

For mild cases of bloodshot eyes, take the following steps:

  • Apply a cold compress directly onto closed eyelids to reduce inflammation
  • Avoid irritating substances like cigarette smoke and alcohol
  • Wear protective eyewear when outdoors

Treatment options for more serious cases depend on the cause of your bloodshot eyes, but they generally involve lubricating drops or ointments prescribed by a doctor or optometrist.

Binge drinking and excessive alcohol consumption can have lasting effects on your health. Zinnia Health is here to help with evidence-based treatment for those struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Call our helpline 24/7 at (855) 430-9439 to get started.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on Eye Health

This article published in the National Library of Medicine explains what happens to your eyes when you drink alcohol.

Drinking too much over time can lead to an increased risk of:

  • Chronic inflammation around the eye area, which could result in permanent damage such as cataracts (clouding of the lens)
  • Glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eyeball)
  • Blurry vision due to decreased tear production, leading to dryness and irritation
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Age-related macular degeneration (spots on the retina)
  • Thinning of the cornea (the clear, protective covering over the eye)
  • Swelling around the optic nerve (optic neuropathy) resulting in partial loss of vision
  • Impaired night vision

In extreme cases, long-term alcohol abuse can cause vision loss or even blindness. Those who drink regularly should do so responsibly and seek medical advice if they start experiencing unusual changes in their vision health over time.

Can Too Much Alcohol Cause Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This is when the tiny blood vessels in the eye burst and bleed into the whites of your eyes, causing a red or pink discoloration. Long-term heavy drinking can damage these fragile vessels and lead to this condition.

In addition, certain medications used to treat alcoholism may also increase the risk of developing subconjunctival hemorrhage. Seek medical advice if you experience any signs of this condition.

What is the Difference Between Bloodshot Eyes and Pink Eye?

Bloodshot eyes and pink eye are two very different conditions, though they may have similar symptoms. Bloodshot eyes or red eyes occur when the small blood vessels in the whites of your eyes become enlarged and filled with more blood than usual.

Various factors can cause bloodshot eyes, including drinking alcohol or exposure to smoke or other irritants.

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an infection that affects the thin membrane covering the white part of your eyeball and inner eyelid. It’s usually caused by bacteria or viruses, but it can also be triggered by allergies.

What Are the Negative Effects of Binge Drinking?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although most individuals who indulge in binge drinking don’t experience alcohol dependence, it’s still hazardous and can cause life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Those who engage in binge drinking have an increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD), health problems, and eye health conditions including bloodshot eyes.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

Long-term alcohol use can seriously affect your physical and mental health. It can lead to a variety of diseases, including:

  • Liver damage
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Depression

According to this study published in the National Library of Medicine, excessive alcohol use can also affect cognitive functioning and memory recall ability.

Long-term alcoholism has also been linked to poor nutrition. Heavy drinkers often neglect proper dietary intake, while focusing on alcoholic beverages instead of healthy food that provides essential nutrients.

According to MedlinePlus, alcohol consumption is one of the top causes of nutrient deficiency in America. The most common deficiencies are B vitamins (B1, B6, and folic acid) and vitamin A, which is essential for eye health.

Get Help With Alcohol Addiction Today

Zinnia Health offers comprehensive detox and treatment options to help individuals suffering from alcohol addiction find hope, healing, and lasting sobriety. If you are experiencing bloodshot eyes, or any other side effects from drinking too much alcohol, call our free alcohol helpline 24/7 at (855) 430-9439 to get started.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us