The world is full of things parents warn their teenagers not to do: don’t give rides to strangers, don’t drink and drive, don’t use drugs. A new fad coming out of the United Kingdom should be added to that list – don’t try vodka eye shots or vodka eyeballing.
Unlike a normal vodka shot, which is a portion of vodka that is drunk out of a shot glass, vodka eye shots are not intended to be drunk. Doing vodka eye shots, which is also known as vodka eyeballing, involves pouring vodka directly into the eye, either from a shot glass or directly from the bottle. Some say the purpose of vodka eyeballing is to get a quicker “high” from the alcohol than is possible by drinking. Others believe it is just a dangerous drinking game that can have permanent effects on the eyes and vision.
If you think vodka eyeballing sounds like a bad idea, you are right. Vodka typically contains between 35 and 50 percent alcohol. That is more than enough alcohol to burn the cornea of the eye, cause scarring on the cornea, or lead to corneal ulcers or infections in the eye. The cornea is the clear front surface of the eye, similar to the crystal on the face of a watch. It protects the eye and plays an important role in focusing images in the eye. In severe cases, vodka eyeballing can damage the cornea leading to loss of vision or even blindness. In other cases, the affected eye may be painful and watery for an indefinite length of time.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology issued a statement advising the public not to engage in vodka eyeballing because of the potential vision risks. Their statement also indicated that the reason for doing vodka eye shots is not valid because the amount of vodka that can be absorbed by the eye is too small to cause the “quick high” users are looking for.
While the idea of vodka eyeballing may seem foolish, it is a rapidly growing fad on college campuses in the United Kingdom and is gaining popularity in the United States. Because the drinking game is often presented in the form of a “dare” among students who are already drunk, their impaired judgment does not recognize the long term risks. Vodka eyeballing is a painful experience. But for people who are already drunk, even this is often not enough to make them stop.
YouTube and other sources on the internet are full of videos of students doing vodka eye shots. Take time to explain the long-term hazards of vodka eyeballing to your family before anyone has eye damage or loses vision.