Vodka Eyeballing is the latest in a series of bizarre trends in drinking. Like butt chugging and vodka tampons, vodka eyeballing is a way to get booze into the system for a faster and more intense drunk than drinking. Instead of throwing back a shot, teens hold the bottle to their eye and pour the liquid directly into the eye, which is laden with blood vessels. The alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream through the mucous membranes. At least, that’s the theory. Experts are divided on whether or not this will really get you drunk. Some hypothesize that the kids who try this are already drunk to begin with and imagine the effect.
Because the alcohol is not being consumed orally, teens think it is easier for teens to hide the fact that they are drinking. However, when alcohol is metabolized, a portion is released through the saliva, no matter how it is ingested. Vodka eyeballing also won’t fool a Breathalyzer, as the test measures blood alcohol content. So apparently, the teens that are doing this are not hiding it as well as they think.
This is a dangerous trend, and emergency rooms in Britain have already reported cases of teens and young twenty-something’s checking in after vodka eyeballing. Vodka eyeballing can cause the mucous membranes in the eye to become very inflamed-which is why experts are skeptical about the effect. A 40 proof vodka shot would cause inflammation and blood vessel clotting, and actual alcohol absorption would be minimal.
In 2010, vodka eyeballing was reported as a growing trend among university students in the United Kingdom. Now vodka eyeballing is rumored to have moved from Britain college campuses to Vegas nightclubs, but there is debate on whether this is really happening or if it’s just an urban legend. Google “Vodka Eyeballing” and you will find thousands of YouTube videos, as well as videos of “Vodka snorting.” Vodka snorting has also been reported by several British bar owners as an alternate route for ingesting alcohol by UK students; reportedly inducing an instant blackout in some drinkers. Again though, the only evidence of this trend is YouTube and the random reports of bar owners. No one knows if vodka eyeballing or vodka snorting are really that common, or are more along the lines of a prank or joke.
The risk is that, even if this is just a media prank, teens may see the videos or hear rumors about vodka eyeballing and want to try it at home. And alcohol in the eye can burn the cornea to the point of lasting impairment or even blindness. It can be very dangerous and painful to try this fad.
Whether or not this is a real trend in teens, the important thing for parents is to have open and honest communication with their child about drugs and alcohol. Surveys confirm that teens are much less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol if they are well informed by their parents about them.