Blinded by Vodka, Cured by Whiskey

You probably know some of the causes of blindness such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. What you may not know is this: combining vodka and diabetes medication can take your sight as well.

Denis Duthie, a tutor at West Plymouth’s Western Institute of Technology in Taranaki, New Zealand, was celebrating his parent’s 50th wedding anniversary with a bottle of vodka gifted to him by his students. This relatively benign action ended in a loss of sight when the alcohol in the vodka interacted with his diabetes medication. At first, Mr. Duthie assumed he had simply drank too much and decided to sleep it off, but when the problem persisted the following morning, he sought medical assistance at his local hospital.

During his examination, doctors noticed a “smell of nail polish” coming from Mr. Duthie. Diagnostics found that he was actually suffering from formaldehyde poisoning which, in this case, was due to the interaction between the vodka and Mr. Dutie’s diabetes medication resulting in the production of methanol.

Methanol Poisoning

When your body metabolizes dangerous quantities of methanol it results in too much acid in your bloodstream. Excessive amounts of acid in the bloodstream can damage or kill important cells in your optic nerve. Left unchecked, methanol poisoning can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, resulting in a complete loss of vision.

Fortunately, this wasn’t the case for Mr. Duthie, but the solution may surprise you. Doctors at Taranaki Base Hospital needed to act quickly to prevent Mr. Duthie’s body from metabolizing more methanol. Their solution? Whiskey.

The ethanol in unadulterated liquor such as whiskey prevents the body from metabolizing methanol. Sadly, Mr. Duthie did not get to enjoy his shot of Johnny Walker Black Label. The doctors decided the fastest and most effective way to administer the ethanol was through a tube in Mr. Duthie’s stomach. Five days later, Mr. Duthie’s vision was restored.

Alcohol is not commonly associated with helping vision, but in the case of Denis Duthie, whiskey cured more than the blues. This is not, however, a suggestion to drink whiskey to treat vision disorders. If you are suffering from any vision disturbances, you should visit your ophthalmologist for a throughout examination and professional treatment.

If you would like more information about preventing blindness and maintaining optimal vision, please find an experienced eye doctor in your area through today.