[LISTEN] Why do your eyes become red when you have had a bit too much to drink?

There is a range of explanations for why you have bloodshot eyes when you drink heavily.

Naked Scientist, Chris Smith shares some of the scientific reasons behind this.

Alcohol effects one's nervous system in a number of ways.

One of the things it does is it increases the flow of blood to superficial tissues and has the effect of opening up blood vessels. And this is why people when they get very cold, will sometimes have a big slug of spirits and say it's warmed me up.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

He says some people get very red in the face when they drink. This is because the blood vessels in the skin of their face open.

I suspect that part of the reason that the eyes get bloodshot is you vasodialate - you open up the blood vessels on the surface of the eye.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

Alcohol is a toxin and so overindulging is not good for one's health, he adds.

When you metabolise alcohol, you turn the ethanol in your liver into acid aldehyde - it is very similar to formaldehyde which is the stuff we embalm dead bodies with. It could well be that some of that bloodshot thing you see is because of the chemical irritation from the products of alcohol consumption.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

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