Whether you're participating in Dry January or considering cutting back on the booze longer term, giving up alcohol can have some amazing benefits for your health. Within just four weeks your body will be able to reverse and put a stop to many of the short and long-term effects of drinking, such as damage to the liver and eyes. Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express, reveals what happens to your body when you give up alcohol – including the benefits it can have for your eye health.
Within 24 hours:
Drinking alcohol increases blood sugar levels which can lead to blurred vision, as it causes the eye lens swells reducing your ability to see. After 24 hours of no alcohol your blood sugar levels will normalise and any vision impairment will return to normal, banishing beer goggles.
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Within a week:
After a heavy drinking session or successive days drinking, your body will be dehydrated as alcohol is a diuretic, which means that you lose fluid through sweating and frequent toilet visits. Following a week abstaining from alcohol your body will reverse the effects of dehydration and normal hydration levels will be maintained, as long as you drink water frequently throughout the day.
Within two weeks:
Two weeks after cutting alcohol from your lifestyle, your blood pressure will also start to lower and normalise. You may also notice a slight weight loss as you cut out the empty calories, which will contribute to lowering your blood pressure. Reducing high blood pressure can ease hypertension, and hypertensive retinopathy, which causes damage the blood vessels in the retina, the area at the back of the eye that helps you to focus images.
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Within three to four weeks:
Getting closer to the end of Dry January, you will start to benefit from a healthier liver, as it sheds excess fat and full function is restored following your abstinence. Your liver health is reflected through the condition of your eyes; the white part of your eye can yellow if there is liver damage from years of drinking, it can also be a sign of liver disease.
Within a month:
Following your month off alcohol, your body's red blood cells will have begun to renew, resulting in better blood flow and oxygen supply to your organs, and eyes, which can help to prevent disease and damage such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.