Countess people have struggled, or are struggling, with drug or alcohol addictions across the country. To help prevent serious health damage or even death, it is important to be able to identify signs of addiction so that intervention and subsequent treatment and recovery can take place. The eyes can reveal some of the signs of addiction as there is a strong correlation between addiction and eye health. There is irony in this connection as drug and alcohol abuse takes hold of the soul and controls it. If eyes are truly the window to the soul, is stands to reason that eyes health could provide the first indications of a drug or alcohol problem. If you look, you’ll see signs of drug or alcohol addiction.
Addiction can cause many changes in the eyes, as both short-term and long-term effects of drug abuse live in the eyes. The long-term damage varies depending on the drug and the person abusing the drug, but people can expect their vision to become worse if they continue to use.
Alcohol Addiction and Your Eye Health
If you have developed a dependency on alcohol, you will have numerous physical, emotional and financial issues. Some of the physical problems involve your eyes. Many people experience blurry or dizzying vision when they are intoxicated, but there are many more potential side effects of alcohol on eye health.
Some of the short-term effects include:
- Eye twitching. This is one of the easiest symptoms for a third-party to identify. People addicted to alcohol may experience eyelids twitching after consuming too much alcohol.
- Difficulty differentiating between things. One of the most important eye functions is the ability to adjust depending on the distance, lighting and contrast of various items. This is vital when driving. If you consume large amounts of alcohol, your eyes will have a much harder time differentiating between objects when the lighting changes. This reaction is one of the many reasons drinking and driving is extremely dangerous.
- Slower pupil reaction. The reduced ability for your pupils to react to lighting and distance is another factor that contributes to impaired driving after alcohol consumption. It will take longer for your eyes to dilate and constrict as needed, making it exponentially more difficult for drivers to adjust to headlights of oncoming vehicles.
- Dry eyes. Eyes can become dry for a variety of reasons, but studies have shown excessive alcohol consumption can increase your chances of dry eye.
These short-term effects may occur during or immediately after drinking and usually go away over time. However, this is not the extent of eye damage caused by alcohol addiction.
There are also long-term effects, including:
- Tobacco-alcohol amblyopia. Additives in alcohol and tobacco may cause this condition, and it is one of the most severe eye consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. This condition results in a slow, painless loss of vision that may even result in blindness.
- Increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies have linked alcohol addiction to AMD.
- Increased cataract formation. Many elderly people can develop issues with cataracts, but alcohol consumption makes you even more vulnerable to cataract formation.
- Impaired vision because of vitamin deficiency. Alcohol consumption affects the vitamins in your body and increases the likelihood of deficiency, which could lead to night blindness, paralysis of eye muscles, blindness and other conditions.
- Prenatal alcohol exposure. Alcohol addiction during pregnancy can damage the fetus, including the fetus’s eyes.
There is no guarantee long-term eye damage can be reversed. Although many issues may resolve naturally over time, other eye issues may require treatment. You should seek medical attention if you are concerned that you are experiencing eye symptoms from alcohol addiction.
Heroin Eyes Often Droopy
Heroin addiction can cause eye damage, including very small pupils, bloodshot or red eyes, and droopy eyes. This is referred to as “heroin eyes.” Extremely small pupils are one of the signs of potential heroin overdose. Heroin eyes can occur when the drug begins impacting the autonomic nervous system.
Cocaine Dilates the Eyes
People struggling with cocaine addiction may also exhibit clear signs in their eyes. Instead of the pinpoint pupils of heroin eyes, “cocaine eyes” appear large and dilated. Because large pupils cause a higher light sensitivity, someone wearing sunglasses in an unnatural or seemingly unnecessary circumstance may have cocaine eyes. Along with dilated pupils, cocaine eyes can include bloodshot or red eyes.
Is Eye Color Connected to Addiction?
A 2015 study by the University of Vermont revealed a possible connection between eye color and alcohol addiction. The findings indicate that people with light-colored eyes, especially European-Americans, were more likely to struggle with an alcohol dependency. European-Americans with blue eyes were most at risk. Though these findings have not been confirmed as fact, they pose a unique concept that could have a significant impact on future addiction studies.
What’s Behind Those Foster Grants?
One of the most obvious signs of drug use is when a user elects to wear sunglasses in environments that don’t dictate the need. Wearing sunglasses indoors or at night are indications of a potential problem.
Contact Arizona Addiction Recovery Center for more information on what to look for in loved ones with chemical codependency.
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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888.512.1705.