Health experts have warned that a dangerous drinking game known as ‘vodka eyeballing’ could rob players of their sight.
The game involves pouring a measure of neat vodka onto the eyeball from the bottle. This strips away the protective membrane covering the eye causing it to sting.
Vodka eyeballing is popular with students. Those who do it claim that it makes them drunk at break-neck speeds and provides an instant high.
But experts have pointed out that this is unlikely as only a small amount of alcohol can get into the system through the eye.
However, the practice can cause devastating long-term damage to eyesight and is a major worry to university authorities.
Video sharing network YouTube features more than 800 clips of people pouring vodka into their eyes and there are host of Facebook groups supporting the phenomenon.
Dr Cindy Tromans, the President of the College of Optometrists, is so concerned she has appeared on a BBC documentary about Britain’s binge drinking culture.
‘Vodka eyeballing is like pouring bleach in your eye – it’s extremely painful,’ she warned.
‘The main danger from pouring 40 per cent alcohol into the eye is damage to the epithelium which is a delicate layer of skin cells covering the eye,’ Dr Tromans told Mail Online.
‘Alcohol will damage this layer which then leaves the eye vulnerable to infection and potentially scarring which in the long run can be sight threatening.’
Dr Tromans appears on the BBC Three documentary, Ready Steady Drink, presented by The Inbetweeners star Emily Atack.
During the programme Miss Atack joins six students in Newcastle preparing for a night out. The 21-year-old is shocked as she watches them pour vodka and squirt lemon juice into their eyes during drinking games.
Later on she witnesses young men and women vomiting in the streets or comatose after drinking too much alcohol, in scenes she describes as ‘depressing’ and ‘humiliating.’
Giving in to peer pressure can have unfortunate consequences. Melissa Fontaine, who left university last summer, was left with a watering sore left eye after repeatedly pouring vodka on it.
‘I was very competitive,’ she told the Daily Mail. ‘Some people might do it once or twice – I did it quite a lot.’
Miss Fontaine visited an eye specialist who told her the vodka had seared its way through the cornea.
‘I’ve been told it could lead to complications and can cause blindness, which is terrifying,’ she said.
Miss Atack hopes her documentary will help others to resist peer pressure.
She said: ‘Although some of the drinking games and activities you see in the documentary are shocking, to many of the young people taking part they are seen as just a bit of fun for a night out – and most don’t stop to think about the potential consequences.
‘We hope that by making this show it will open up people’s eyes to the serious side of drinking games.’