Many people are aware that sight is affected when you are drunk. But the fact that even a small amount of alcohol can already reduce eyesight is not so well known. Research by Specsavers in The Netherlands shows that people underestimate the effect of one or a few alcoholic drinks on their vision. As many as 67% of people think that alcohol does not affect their eyesight at all.
The maximum allowed blood alcohol level for traffic participation is in most countries around 0,5 pro millage. This level is generally reached by consuming 2 glasses within one hour by men, a little less for women.** This level can, dependent on circumstances, already impact sight.
A study conducted by Western University in Ontario, Canada, revealed that alcohol impairs the eye’s ability to effectively adjust vision for brightness and contrast by 30 percent when the blood alcohol level is at the legal driving limit.
“Alcohol affects the eye muscles, pupil response gets slower and contrast vision decreases. This can be especially dangerous when driving in the darkness and eyes cannot adapt fast enough to oncoming headlights. On top of that, alcohol also makes it more difficult to estimate distances, see colours and reduces the visual field. You can imagine what that does to seeing brake lights, road signs and other traffic.” says Simone Stad, optometrist at Specsavers.
It’s not that bad, is it?
Almost 70 percent (67 %) of the Dutch people in the study think that alcohol has no effect on their eyesight. It also shows that how older the person, the less they think that alcohol affects their eyesight. For example, 33 % of 18- to 35-year-olds think their eyesight is affected and only 10 % of 60 plus think the same.
*Source: Western University, Ontario
**Source: Trimbos Instituut
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