All About Dry Eye Blog

Drinking Alcohol Worsens Dry Eye, Study Finds

A recent study conducted by the Hallym University College of Medicine has confirmed that drinking alcohol can directly disturb the ocular surface.¹

The Korea-based study was comprised of twenty healthy males with no history of eye disease. Ten men served as subjects, while the others served as controls for the study. The subjects were instructed to drink 0.75 grams of alcohol (that’s about two beers) over a two hour period. A few hours later, alcohol was detected in the tears of all ten subjects.

Though by early morning the traces of alcohol were seemingly gone, findings indicated that the booze induced tear hyperosmolarity and a significantly shortened tear break up time in all of the men who drank it. In many cases, both hyperosmolarity and shortened tear break-up time can result in dry eyes.

The evidence found during this study suggests that the effects of even a small amount of alcohol can increase and exacerbate symptoms in dry eye patients. Researchers have been paying close attention to the effects our food and drink consumption have on dry eye disease, only recently a different study linked caffeine to dry eye improvements and another one suggested that foods with high levels of Vitamin A can also have a soothing effect on symptoms. (So, even if you have to cut down on beers and mojitos, feel free to have a cup of coffee and some sweet potato fries on the side!)

Remember to drink a sufficient amount of water (8-10 glasses a day) and avoid alcohol when dealing with dry eye symptoms.

Do you find that drinking alcohol affects your dry eye issues? Do you think alcohol could be related to your flare-ups? Leave a comment and let us know!



  1. I find when I drink red wine – my dry eye gets intense- particularly the morning after. Anyone else had the same experience? I try to drink a glass of water for every glass of wine.

    • atayraco says:

      I raise a glass to Vi and Geo! I have the same problem with my eyes. Red wine in particular seems to do the worst damage (or maybe it’s just my imagination? I do like white wine a lot more haha). Drinking a glass of water for every wine glass is the way to go. I try to drink plenty of coconut water the day after to re-hydrate my eyes, seems to do the trick for now.

    • Yes, I’ve noticed the same. Had dry eye even before the lasik surgery. I love red wine but find that the condition gets worse while drinking it. Will try a glass of water between wines, I also take a salmon oil supplement everyday and normally drink 70-80 oz of water daily. Oh and, Restasis. THANKS.

  2. I do have the same problem. There is nohing you can do. It is due to dehitration. Drinking water helps a lot, even eye drops too. I recomend you never stop drinking wine :). Cheers!

  3. Same conclusion as above. Good to see I am not alone

  4. Cathy Fenster says:

    Drinking wine seems to give me dry eye (itchy, crusty)….If I don’t drink, I don’t have symptoms. I found this article while trying to see if this was a common symptom. What is sad, is I love drinking red wine (drinking water and eye drops don’t seem to compensate).

    • Hi Cathy. Thanks for your comment. I have the exact same problem. While matching a glass of water to each glass of wine helps minimally- it’s not enough to subside the discomfort! The fact is that alcohol is dehydrating and our body needs to be hydrated in order for our eyes to produce a healthy tear film. Perhaps try upping your h2o intake throughout the day prior to starting drinking. If you tend to have a few drinks on Friday, for example, why not make it your mission to drink extra water and increase your omega-3 intake on that day before symptoms arise?

  5. Guest 001 says:

    I knew it!!! I have extremely dry eyes and even one gets subconjunctival hemorrhage, and it somehow overlaps after drinking red wine which i can never refuse to. But doctors always say there is no connection between these 2. But as I have experienced in my life and read your comments after all there is a connection. From now on, a glass of water must be accompanied by each glass of wine. thanks for all your comments.


    I have extremely dry eyes. I have surgically closed the ducts, it is a little bit better, but still, I have difficult days. When they are very dry, and itchy and the eye lids feel like cardboard, I have studied if an external element had changed something. I think that the consumption of alcohol, for me wine red or white, is drying the eyes. I had wine for a few consecutive days (1 to 2 glasses for dinner) and I felt awful. Nothing helped ( humidifier, eye drops, warm compresses…..not even a rainy day, usually helpful when you have dry eyes) I have stopped the wine and after 2 days, I feel a relief. So reading these testimonies I am convinced that unfortunately any kind of alcohol is bad when you have dry eyes

    • I have to agree, Francoise. Personally, my eyes feel terrible even 24 hours after drinking wine. The best advice I can think of is to match each glass of wine with a glass of water. Further, take an omega-3 supplement and avoid sugary/starchy food on Fridays if you know you’ll be having alcohol in the evening.

  7. Recently, I had my tear duct plugged and passed a more comfortable night sleeping. Then the very next day a met up with a few buds and had margaritas. Horrible night with eyelid sticking to my eyeball, horrible. I’m convinced that it was the drinks especially now after reading what other dry eye sufferers say.

    • I searched specifically to see if there was a link. After a drunk on Fridays my eyes are horrible. In newly diagnosed and noticed after poor Mardi Gras celebrations here in Louisiana, my eyes took twenty steps back. One hemorrhaged. So thanks for the information, as disappointing as it is.

  8. I think it’s after drinking any kind of alcohol seems to have a terrible effect. It’s good to know I am not alone.

  9. Thought I was alone. Will try matching a glass of water after every glass of alcohol

  10. The same is happening to me ,last night I was in the hot tub and had a few glasses of red wine, today my dry eye is terrible and my feet and hands are all swollen ,this happens to me every time I drink red wine ,think I might have to stop drinking

    • Hi Dolly. Sounds like you could have an allergy or at the very least an intolerance to red wine. I know that I certainly do. Have you tried other alcoholic beverages to gauge whether you had the same type of reaction?

  11. Wow – I have also experienced exactly the same thing – red wine – it makes my eyes itchy and dry within 30 minutes of drinking red wine. White wine and beer seem to have less of an effect. Like some of the comments on here, my eye surgeon said that such a link would be very odd (and not relevant) but it sounds like many other people have experienced this.

    • Hi Gavin.. Thanks for your comment! As i probably mentioned, the more I drink, the itchier and more dry my eyes become. Wine, especially white wines will have my eyes looking red after just a few glasses. One thing I do try to do if I know I’m going to be drinking in the evening is cut back on sugary foods during the day (usually Saturdays, for instance) it seems to help.. Wonder if it’s the refined sugars that are causing our eyes to feel parched? Just something I’ve noticed- thought I’d mention it.

  12. Yes. Me too. I also noticed that coffee and energy drinks also dry my eyes.

  13. I am a 40 year old male, and I binge drink 2 – 3 nights per week for the last 5-10 years. My eyes are increasingly getting dryer all week, not just the day after drinking. I regularly drink lots of water in between alcoholic drinks. I use Equate’s “Artificial Tears” eye drops that only temporarily help. I am likely not going to stop drinking. I wonder if there is a superior type of eyedrops / cream that can help with this problem.

    • Hilda Luiz says:

      I have severe dry eye syndrome and my eyes are extremely light sensitive. I have recently discovered that red and white wine make it even more unbearable. Oh dear. I love wine and am devastated. Can anyone tell me about Restasis. Will it help? Any side affects? I live in South Africa and would like to know where I can obtain it.

    • I have eye plugs and use Restasis. The ads say that those who have plugs will not see improvement but I believe it helps me. Also drink extra water between glasses of red wine. I do think these things help the dry eye but basically it’s the beast you must live with. Must be prescribed by a physician. Good luck!

  14. There definately is a corelation between alcohol and worsening of dry eye. I moisturize my eyes by taking a capsule of “Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil”, puncture it and put some of the oil into my eyes, useing the rest on my skin. I do not reuse the opened capsule for my eyes. This “treatment” works better than anything else I have tried.

  15. I have khown this for years. I can tell a difference, with just one beer. More than a couple drinks makes wearing my contacts unbearable. I tried restasis with little to no perceptible difference.

  16. I have gluten sensitivity issue and gluten exacerbates my dry eye. But Khalua and Mike’s Hard Lemonade are not supposed to have gluten in them. Yet they both make my dry eye to flare up.

  17. Thanks for the information,I am a Whisky and Beer drinker and suffer terribly with dry eyes.I will cut down the Whisky reluctantly and see if it helps , Jim.

    • After reading the comments on September 14, 2015 .I stopped ,drinking Whisky and Beer, from Monday to Friday.For the past two nights ,I have managed to do without using Gel Tears,normally around 3 or 4 in the early hours to releave the pain.I also use LACRI –LUBE Eye Ointment last thing at night ,as it dissolves slower than the Gel Tears that i use through the day.I do believe that Alcohol certainly adds to the problem.What surprises me, is for all the years i have had this problem,not once has a Doctor, Optician, or Eye Consultant, mentioned Alcohol.So thanks for all your information. Jim.

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