Research Indicates Alcohol Consumption Affects Dry Eye

Our PROSE patients with dry eye are advised to follow home-care strategies in addition to their medically prescribed treatment plans in order to alleviate symptoms. Some of these self-care treatment protocols include taking frequent breaks from computer time, increasing humidity in the home or workplace, and protecting the eyes from wind and sun. Another key component is staying hydrated, which we wrote about here in a previous blog post. Something to consider when focusing on staying well hydrated is to avoid diuretics (substances that reduce the amount of fluid in the body). Alcohol is considered a diuretic and it is often recommended to avoid or limit alcohol consumption to prevent exacerbation of dry eye symptoms. Here is new scientific research that supports this recommendation and illustrates how alcohol can impact dry eye.

Researchers at the Hallym University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea, conducted a small study to look at the effects of alcohol on tear film and ocular surface. Half of the study subjects consumed alcohol while the other half abstained. In the group that consumed alcohol, researchers noted tear film break-up time (TBUT) was significantly greater. In addition, ethanol was secreted into the tears which induced hyperosmolarity, a condition in which greater concentrations of proteins and electrolytes are found in the tears.  Hyperosmoloarity is an indicator of ocular dryness and a feature considered common to all cases of dry eye disease. Based on these study results, the researchers concluded that these changes could exacerbate dry eye symptoms in patients with ocular surface conditions.

Have you found that alcohol consumption impacts your dry eye symptoms? What are your favorite self-care strategies that have helped you manage your dry eye symptoms?