It's common knowledge that a few too many can leave you hunched over the toilet or suffering from a pounding headache. But reaching for eye drops? Probably not included in your post-drinking routine, but they definitely should be.
Many different factors can result in dry eyes, including allergies, contact lenses, and, yes, alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it increases the flow of urine. In other words, it makes you pee. That's why you find yourself constantly running to the bathroom when you're drinking.
It's also why you're likely to wake up with dry, irritated eyes the next morning. Alcohol is a dehydrating substance, and your eyes are definitely not immune. The correlation between diuretics and dehydration is straightforward. Even a small amount of alcohol can worsen the symptoms of dry eye patients, since alcohol blocks the release of a hormone that is needed for water reabsorption.
Don't fret—you can have your cake and eat it too. If you're particularly prone to dry eyes but don't want to give up alcohol, Atlanta optometrist Dr. Jay Chretien advises you to alternate every drink with a glass of water. This also helps relieve the nasty hangover you may wake up with, Chretien points out.
It may be smart to keep a bottle of artificial tears or rewetting drops in your pocket next time you hit the bar. While this won't completely negate alcohol's effects on your eyes, it definitely can help. However, reducing your alcohol consumption is your best bet for avoiding dry eyes.
Think before you take that next shot (or don't). Just know that you may be waking up with dry eyes until your body's hydration level is back to normal.