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Why Alcohol Causes Double Vision

What's the Deal With Seeing Double?


I'm not proud to admit it, but once or twice, I've consumed one too many drinks to the point of having double vision. Oddly, we don't always have to be totally trashed to see double. Have you ever gotten home from a night of liquid calorie indulgence, plopped down on the couch, and been surprised to find not one but two TVs?

So what causes it exactly? I was excited to find the answer in the (appropriately titled) Answer Fella column in the most recent issue of Esquire. Apparently, alcohol effects the nerves in your brain and brain stem that govern your eye movements. According to Indiana University professor Bruce Martin:

"It slows down the brain so you can't get the eyes tracking on something quickly. The time it takes to get your two eyes — their images — to fuse to give you a single image increases when you drink." . . . Covering one eye can help, he notes, "because then you don't have your brain comparing the two images. You just have the one image."

Fascinating, right? If somewhat disturbing! Now that you know what's causing it, will you make more of an effort to avoid seeing double? Also, let me remind you that you should limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage a day and if you're seeing double don't try to drive covering one eye. Call a cab instead.

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