Night vision problems - impact of alcohol?

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Night vision problems - impact of alcohol?

Postby RobW » Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:54 pm

This may sound a bit odd, but has anyone else noticed a dramatic improvement in their night vision while drinking alcohol?

I'm 39 and had LASIK about 2 years ago. My eyes were -6.5 and -5.5 with a slight astigmatism before, and I have large pupils. I did some research, paid a premium, and went with who I think was a very well qualified surgeon/clinic attached to a major university. My surgery went well and I had no physical problems: no dry eye, no flap complications, etc. My sympathies go out to those of you with these.

However, I have been disappointed with my low light and night vision. I have very good vision in bright light: outdoors during the day or under bright indoor lighting. I read the eye chart at 20/20 left and 20/25 right. In less that bright conditions though - indoors in moderate or low light, at night under street lights - I have some aberrations: loss of contrast sensitivity, halos, minor glare, etc.; as well as moderately bad (to me anyway) starbursts in dark conditions.

I'm a social drinker (I typically have 2-3 drinks, and rarely more than that) and have consistently seen a dramatic improvement in my night and low light vision after a drink or two. This is very consistent and happens nearly every time I drink alcohol. The haloes, starbursts, etc., are nearly gone and I see very close to as clearly as I do in bright outdoor light.

I mentioned this to my surgeon, who is involved in optics research and well versed in the medical literature, and he wasn't surprised though he hadn't heard of it before.

Has anyone else experienced this?

(This is not a drunken alcohol-induced fantasy but happens consistently after a drink or two.)

Also, as a PS, if anyone else has low light vision aberrations and has not tried Alphagan P, it helps me very much and turned what was a very depressing and discouraging situation into more a nuisance of using prescription eye drops in lower light and night conditions.

Regards, Rob
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Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:39 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Postby ALK-O'd » Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:44 am

Hi Rob - Although I may be risking creating a forum of alcoholics (just kidding) , I wanted to let you know that I too see a noticeable reduction in my GASH symptoms usually after two or three drinks. I've never seen anyone else post anything on the subject (I even did a quick Google search on the topic before replying here), but I certainly have been aware of the effects that alcohol, medications and general energy level have on my GASH symptoms for quite some time.

I had ALK (Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty) refractive surgery 15 years ago and my night vision has been pretty bad ever since. I have bad ghosting, starbursts and a significant loss of contrast sensitivity in low light conditions. I wouldn't say the level of my symptoms are quite crippling - but rather extremely annoying. I can drive at night, but I try to limit it as much as possible. My day / good light vision is fine.

As I mentioned earlier, I see fluctuations in my night GASH symptoms quite regularly. At good times they aren't too bad, but if I am tired or sick they can come close to being crippling. Keep in mind that how you perceive your GASH symptoms is directly related to how "open" your pupils are since you (like me) have an ablation zone smaller than your pupil size when you are fully dilated. Therefore, ANYTHING that causes your pupils to constrict or dilate in a manner other than which you are normally used to will cause you to see a change in your GASH symptoms. Sometimes this will be for the good - like you experience with your Alphagan P drops / alcohol - and sometimes for the bad - like any medications that have a side effect of dilating your pupils.

So anyway, this answer is a long winded "yes I see it too" from me - and perhaps on a more positive note than alcohol, I've noticed that my GASH symptoms are also a bit reduced after a good workout as well.

Oh - PS you're probably already aware of this, but be careful with those Alphagan P drops - the pupil constriction is a side effect of the medication. It's main purpose is to lower the pressure in the eye for people that have glaucoma. The side effect of pupil constriction will also wear off in time with regular use - so definitely use it sparingly.

Take care.
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Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:40 pm
Location: New York

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