Can You Drink Alcohol After Lasik?
After lasik, you may want to celebrate your brand new vision by enjoying a nice adult beverage. Having a cold beer or a tasty wine sure would be a great way to cap off the highs and lows of the day. But there are some critical things you must know before drinking any alcohol after lasik.
For some people, alcohol may be consumed after lasik but only in moderation. A high amount of caution should be used in the first 24 hours. High amounts of alcohol intake should also be avoided as this can cause issues with healing or lead to injury.
So before you open up that nice bottle of champagne you've been saving for a special occasion, read below to see if you need to avoid alcohol.
What does alcohol do?
Alcohol has a wide variety of effects on the body. There are two effects of alcohol which we will talk about today:
Alcohol causes you to become dehydrated
Our body is full of water. Water is essential to support the health of all of our organs and cells. But this water doesn't last forever. We of course urinate water out and must replace it by drinking more water.
The body has a fine regulatory system to control how much urine we produce (and thus not lose too much water). This takes place in the kidneys. If we need to conserve water, we naturally produce less urine.
Alcohol messes with this process - it's what is known as a diuretic. It prevents us from conserving water in the kidneys. This results in more urine production. We lose more water than we need and can end up becoming dehydrated.
Alcohol messes with our brain
Quickly after the first sip of a drink, the alcohol in that drink gets absorbed through the stomach and travels to the brain. In the brain, alcohol starts messing with the normal way the brain communicates with itself. This reduces your abilities in numerous ways:
- Slow reaction time
- Reduced judgment & reasoning
- Reduced fine motor control
However, despite these reduced abilities, alcohol often causes an increased level of confidence. We instead think our abilities have gotten better rather than worse.
Problems with alcohol and lasik
Drinking alcohol doesn't directly affect the eyes and the lasik flap. But the side effects of alcohol can start to cause issues with the way your eyes heal after lasik.
Avoid with Xanax
Many people take a small amount of a relaxing medication such as Xanax or Valium on the day of lasik. Lasik eye surgery is performed while you are awake. While the procedure is easy to go through (see also Does Lasik Hurt?), is still stressful.
Xanax and Valium have effects on the brain similar to how alcohol works. It causes that reduced level of thinking. Mixing these medications with alcohol can compound the effect of both of these drugs. This can be dangerous. There is no amount of mixing which can be considered safe.
Both Xanax and alcohol are broken down by the liver. But alcohol is a higher priority for the liver than Xanax - it is considered a toxin. Thus, that Xanax will just have to wait in your system until the alcohol is broken down. This will prolong the effect of the Xanax.
If you have had Xanax or Valium for your lasik procedure, do NOT drink alcohol until this medication is cleared from your system. It is just simply not worth the risk.
Avoid dehydration after lasik
Everyone after lasik will have additional dry eye. The lasik flap interferes with the eyes ability to produce more tears. An eye that produces less tears will dry out more frequently. Eventually this heals up over time, but in the meantime, many of the post-op goals of lasik are to prevent the eye from drying out.
As mentioned above, alcohol can dry the body out. Dehydration can lead to dry eyes. Dry eyes can cause inflammation to build up on the surface of the eye. This causes the eyes to feel irritable, reduces the ability of the eyes to heal after lasik and will actually cause more dry eye!
The biggest risk of dehydration is within the first 24 hours after lasik. After the lasik flap is repositioned, there is a thin break in the layer of cells on the surface of the cornea (called epithelium) at the edge of the lasik flap. This break must heal over.
An eye that has an excessive amount of dryness can:
- Have slower healing of that break. The epithelium gets nutrients to stay healthy from the tear film. If the epithelium is dry and unhealthy, it will have a harder time regenerating and healing up the scratch.
- Potentially cause the lasik flap to dislocate. Until that scratch heals over and secures the lasik flap, the lasik flap can move out of position. In a nice hydrated eye, there is a good amount of lubrication when the eyelid slides over the lasik flap. In a dehydrated eye, there is a lot more friction. This friction can potentially cause the lasik flap to dislocate and require repair (see also Everything You Need To Know About Flap Dislocation After Lasik).
If you are going to drink some bottles of beers or glasses of wine, be sure to alternate with cups of water to make sure you avoid getting dehydrated.
Altered abilities can lead to injury
After drinking alcohol, we aren't thinking clearly. Impaired judgement may cause us to do activities we normally wouldn't do. Reduced reaction time and reduced motor control may cause us to do activities we normally do more poorly. Both of these situations can lead to injury.
Having a high amount of alcohol intoxication puts you at higher risk of injury. If you stumble and fall, you can potentially cause injury to your eyes. And while yes, it’s good to avoid injuries to the eyes all the time, we especially want to avoid injuries to the eyes while the lasik flap is healing over. Contact to the eye that normally wouldn’t do anything can cause cause an unhealed lasik flap to dislocate.
Even if you are careful, the altered thinking with alcohol consumption can cause you to forget certain precautions after lasik. You may forget that you aren’t suppose to rub your eyes. You may forget to put in your eye drops. There are numerous things alcohol may prevent you from doing well.
It’s important to make sure you maintain a clear head after lasik.
Alcohol doesn’t have a direct impact on lasik or lasik flap. Because of that, alcohol can be consumed in moderation after lasik. However, if you had a Xanax or Valium: avoid alcohol. If you are going to drink, be careful to avoid dehydration and avoid drinking enough to alter your thinking. All of this helps ensure your best outcome after lasik.
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