What Happens to Pupils When Drinking?


Consumption of alcohol is common worldwide. Several different things happen to you physically, emotionally and psychologically when you are drinking alcoholic beverages. The state and appearance of your eyes can give you away rather quickly. Your pupils appear bigger and slower, and your ability to focus and the redness of your eyes are also apparent.

Portrait of woman drinking a cocktail
Portrait of woman drinking a cocktail (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Pupil Size

The small muscle fibers of the iris are in charge of expanding and contracting, and causes the pupil to look bigger or smaller. Drinking alcoholic beverages will cause your pupils to expand, or dilate.

Close up shot of a woman's eye
Close up shot of a woman's eye (Image: Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Slow Pupil Reaction

When light is introduced to a normal functioning eye, the pupil will contract to allow less light to come in. When it is dark, normal eyes dilate to let more light in. These adaptations are quick under normal conditions. Drinking alcohol will slow your pupil reaction time.

Closeup of dilated pupil
Closeup of dilated pupil (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Inability to Focus

Alcohol weakens your pupil reaction time, eye muscle coordination and brain functioning. This may cause double or blurry vision. For instance, if you are driving after drinking, your eyes may not be able to focus properly when there are headlights pointing at you from oncoming traffic.

Man driving a car at night
Man driving a car at night (Image: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Red Eyes

Your eyes will become dry and red after you start drinking alcohol. This is due to the dilation and expansion of the blood vessels in and around the eye. The redness is due to the expanded size of the blood vessels.

Closeup of red eyes
Closeup of red eyes (Image: Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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