There are many physical signs that someone might be suffering from addiction. They might start to act differently or their physical appearance might even begin to change. What many people don’t know is that sometimes, to determine if a friend or loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, all they have to do is look at their eyes.
Not only are their physician “tells” when it comes to looking in someone’s eyes, but sometimes just seeing what color their eyes are can be an indication that there might be a dependence or addiction behind those eyes. While this might sound crazy, there is a lot of science behind it. Let’s take a look at the concept of eye addiction and the association between eye color and drug and alcohol dependence and addiction.
How Prevalent Is Addiction?
Millions of people in this country have either previously struggled or are currently struggling with addiction. Almost 21 million Americans have struggled with some type of addiction at least once in their lives. Unfortunately, only roughly 10% of those people go and get help for their addiction. As a result, overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990 with over a million people have died as a result of a substance overdose just since 1999.
When it comes specifically to alcohol, nearly 15 million people are currently suffering from an alcohol disorder of some sort. Of those roughly 15 million people, only about 7% will ever receive treatment for their addiction. That’s just one of the many reasons why it is so crucial to know the signs to look for if you fear that either yourself or someone you know is suffering so they don’t become part of that other 93%.
What Are Some Common Signs of Alcohol Disorder
Before we focus on the eyes, it’s important to have a refresher on some of the most common signs that someone might be suffering from a drug or alcohol disorder. It’s also important to remember that there are many different types of alcohol disorder and just because someone doesn’t drink every day doesn’t mean that they don’t have a problem. For example, someone struggling with binge drinking might only drink on the weekend. However, if they are consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short window, it could indicate that they have a problem.
Some of the more common signs that you or someone you know might be suffering from an alcohol-related disorder include:
- Needing more and more alcohol to feel the desired effects
- Actively trying to either stop drinking or cut back but can’t
- Drinking more frequently and for longer periods than normal
- Continuing to drink despite it resulting in negative consequences
- Continuing to drink despite it resulting in health-related issues
- Avoiding activities and settings where drinking isn’t possible
- Experiencing financial or legal problems as a result of drinking
- Suffering from withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
If you or someone you know is a drinker who is suffering from any of the above signs or symptoms, it is important to get help before it is too late.
Can Alcohol Addiction Affect My Eyes and My Overall Eye Health?
Addiction can have adverse effects on a person financially, physically, and even emotionally. One of the parts of the body that can be negatively affected by addiction that doesn’t get a lot of attention is the eyes. While many people will experience temporary vision problems while they are intoxicated, such as blurriness or dizziness as a result of their vision, there can be more severe eye-related short-term and long-term side-effects as a result of prolonged drinking and addiction.
Some short-term eye-related effects of addiction include:
- Slow pupil reaction – After alcohol consumption, you will begin to experience a reduced ability for your pupils to react to things like lighting and distance. As a result of the alcohol, it takes longer for your eyes to dilate and constrict as needed. This can prove to be particularly difficult when it comes to attempting to drive, one of the many reasons why you should NEVER drink and drive.
- Dry eye – While there are many reasons why your eyes can dry out, one of those can be a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
- Eye twitching – Not only is this one of the most common symptoms of too much drinking, but it’s also one of the easiest to identify. People suffering from an alcohol dependency or addiction may suffer from twitching eyelids after drinking too much.
While people may experience these symptoms right after drinking, they tend to dissipate over time. However, alcohol addiction can also lead to some more severe, long-term issues. Those include:
- Impaired vision as a result of vitamin deficiency – Alcohol consumption can cause dehydration and can also affect the vitamins in your body. A prolonged vitamin deficiency can lead to night blindness, overall blindness, paralysis of the eye muscles, and other eye-related conditions.
- Tobacco-alcohol amblyopia – This is one of the most severe long-term eye-related conditions that can develop as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. There are additives in both alcohol and tobacco products that can lead to a slow, painless loss of vision that can ultimately result in blindness.
- Increased cataract formation – While as people get older they are more prone to cataract issues, excessive alcohol consumption can increase the chances of cataract formation.
- Increased AMD – AMD, or age-related macular degeneration, can occur as a result of alcohol dependency or addiction.
- Prenatal alcohol exposure – Women who are pregnant and suffer from alcohol addiction can damage the fetus as a result of drinking, including doing damage to the fetus’s eyes.
If you begin to notice any eye-related issues as a result of prolonged, excessive drinking, it is important to seek medical attention immediately before the conditions and symptoms get worse.
Can Other Substances of Abuse Affect My Eyes?
It’s not just alcohol that can lead to vision and other eye-related issues. Other drugs and substances of abuse can have adverse effects on the eyes.
Heroin addiction can lead to eye damage, including droopy eyes, bloodshot or red eyes, and can even shrink the pupils, making them very small. When someone suffers from these eye-related issues as a result of prolonged heroin use it is known as “heroin eyes”. Extremely small pupils can also be a sign of a heroin overdose.
Someone suffering from cocaine addiction might see signs of addiction in their eyes as well. “Cocaine eyes” tend to have large and dilated pupils. As a result, someone who is suffering from a cocaine addiction might wear sunglasses at times and in places where sunglasses normally wouldn’t need to be worn. Those suffering from cocaine addiction might also experience bloodshot or red eyes.
Is There Any Correlation Between Eye Color and Addiction?
While this might sound crazy, people can be more genetically predisposed to suffer from alcohol addiction or dependency-based solely on their eye color.
A study performed by the University of Vermont and published by the American Journal of Medical Genetics showed that the lighter someone’s eyes are, the more genetically predisposed they are to suffer from alcohol dependency or addiction. People with blue eyes are more genetically predisposed to suffer than people with any other eye color.
Additionally, those of European-American descent have the highest genetic predisposition to alcohol dependence and addiction of every ethnicity in the United States.
Am I At Risk of Developing an Alcohol Disorder?
Regardless of your ethnicity or your eye-color, there are several factors to keep in mind when it comes to being more or less likely of developing an alcohol disorder. These factors include:
- Family members who are either currently suffering from addiction or are in recovery
- Experimenting with drugs or alcohol at an early age
- Raised in an environment that promoted heavy drinking or drug use
- Turn to drugs or alcohol first to manage issues and emotions
- Driving despite knowing and acknowledging you are under the influence
- Turn to drugs or alcohol to help with a mental health disorder that you suffer from
Want To Know More About the Concept of Eyes Addiction?
While oftentimes you can tell if someone is under the influence by seeing how they behave, you can also tell by sometimes looking into their eyes. Not only that but excessive and prolonged alcohol use can also lead to serious eye-related medical issues.
If you or someone you know is suffering from substance addiction or dependency, it’s important to get help before it’s too late. At Casa Nuevo Vida, we know that living with an addiction can be difficult, that’s why we offer sober living programs designed specifically for each individual that walks through our doors and their needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help get either you or your loved one the help that they need so they can live a happy, healthy, and sober life.