How Drinking Alcohol Decreases Night Vision

If you really needed another reason not to drink and drive, here it is: alcohol decreases your night vision.

It’s no secret that alcohol messes with your brain. It causes a whole slew of problems that can inhibit your ability to drive. Some communities simulate this by providing a pair of “drunk goggles” and allowing people to attempt to drive a golf cart at community events. If you ever have the opportunity to try that out, do it! It will definitely convince you to think twice before getting behind the wheel after a night on the town.

It’s well known that alcohol affects your ability to make good decisions, your reaction time, and your peripheral vision, which are all integral parts of being able to drive well. However,  did you know that alcohol also causes direct problems with your eyes that add to your already inhibited state of mind? That’s just one more reason as to why you shouldn’t drink and drive, especially at night. Keep reading to learn more about the science behind how alcohol can impair your vision at night.

How Alcohol Affects the Eye

According to a study performed by the University of Granada, alcohol causes normal night vision problems to significantly increase. This means that if you already have night vision issues, those issues are exacerbated by the alcohol in your system. The higher your blood alcohol level is, the more your night vision is affected.

The agent in alcohol that affects the human brain is called ethanol. Ethanol impairs your vision by flowing into the tear-film of your eye. This distorts the quality of the images you see. The alcohol disturbs the covering of the eye called the tear-film, which destroys the quality of the images you see. When the tear-film deteriorates, the quality of all the images you see deteriorates as well. Add that mess to the normal glare from traffic on the highway and you can understand just how difficult it is to drive at night after you’ve had a few drinks.

Results of Study

Researchers gathered 67 subjects and gave them varying quantities of wine. They then measured their breath alcohol content and studied the quality of their retinal images and their night-vision performances.  They used a visual test called the halometer to determine how well they could visualize images in low-light conditions. This allowed them to measure the quality of the night vision disturbances they were seeing, such as seeing halos around lights.

What they found out is that the perception of halos around bright lights and other night vision disturbances increased. Additionally,  the quality of the images that the eyes produced significantly deteriorated. The higher the breath alcohol content was over the legal limit, the more night vision was affected. So, that’s why it’s so important to stay below the legal limit (or not drink at all) if you are going to be driving at night.

This research has been of value to public healthcare and society in general, especially when it comes to driving at night. Night vision and alcohol consumption have been factors in many traffic accidents for a very long time. Our hope is that people will become even more aware of the kinds of effects alcohol can have on a person, while driving, and especially on their vision.

When you are put in the situation that the researchers put the subjects of the study in, your visual perceptions would make it incredibly difficult to see. You could miss a person walking across the street, or the shape or image of a road sign, or the headlights from oncoming cars. That’s why it’s so important to bring a designated driver with you if you are going out for the evening.

Improving Night Vision

Luckily, there are some steps you can take to improve your night vision before getting behind the wheel. The first step in improving night vision is to definitely never drink alcohol before or while driving. If you have a group of friends you like to go out to dinner with, rotate who will be the designated driver for the night. Maybe even chip in and pay for that individual’s food that night as a way to say thank you! That way, you and your friends will all stay safe, and the person not drinking won’t feel as left out.

Other than that, there are several ways you can improve how well you see at night while you are driving. Some people have such terrible night vision that they can’t drive after dark at all without risking getting into an accident.

One way you can boost your night vision abilities is to increase your vitamin A intake, which can help to improve your night vision. You can do this by eating more carrots, of course. However, it will take a whole lot of carrots to give you enough vitamin A to boost your night vision that much. Or, you can eat and drink other beverages and foods that contain vitamin A, such as leafy green vegetables, or you can take a vitamin A supplement.

You can also boost your intake of lutein, a nutrient found in a variety of foods. Lutein is very beneficial for your eye health and one of those benefits happens to include your ability to see at night. You can find high amounts of lutein in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. It’s in a variety of other foods as well.

Supplements for Night Vision

In addition, you can also improve your overall eye health by including eye-healthy vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements into your diet. These nutrients have the ability to strengthen your eyes and the muscles around them to improve your vision naturally and safely. Our Rebuild Your Vision Ocu-Plus formula contains 17 vitamins and minerals that will help boost your overall eye health, not to mention your night vision. Adding in some healthier foods, reducing your alcohol consumption (especially after dark!), and taking a supplement daily can all help lead to healthier vision, day and night.