This new trend, which involves holding a bottle of vodka up to an open eye, is rising in popularity since coming over from America, where it is thought to have started in Las Vegas nightclubs where waitresses performed the trick for tips.
The stunt, known as vodka eyeballing to students, is supposed to increase the time it takes to get drunk as it passes through the mucous membrane and enters the bloodstream through veins at the back of the eye.
First year student David Griffiths is one of many students who has tried the new craze, but he wasn’t impressed: “It wasn’t worth the pain. I only did it because all of my friends were,” he says. “I know loads of other students doing it, it’s definitely becoming more popular.”
What Griffiths, and the many other students participating in this game, do not realise is that vodka eyeballing has hidden dangers. A medical expert from St. Mary’s Hospital claims that with 40% pure ethanol, vodka poured directly into the eye could cause inflammation and thrombosis.
Cases of students suffering from the negative effects of this disturbing trend are on the increase, with many complaining of having symptoms such as permanently watering or sore eyes which is directly linked to them exposing their eyes to vodka regularly. A much more serious side effect is that vodka eyeballing could potentially turn someone blind.
Griffiths admits that he wasn’t aware of the dangers that vodka eyeballing had, allthough he admits that he did suffer the after effects: “Vodka eyeballing did make my eye bloodshot and when I woke up the next morning it still stung.”
Describing vodka eyeballing as “like any other drinking game” is not helping student’s causes when it comes to the reputation they have with binge drinking. Worryingly deaths from liver disease, mostly caused by alcohol, have more than doubled in the UK in the past twenty years.
A survey carried out by YouGov Plc in 2009 indicated that many 18-24 year olds think that it is socially unacceptable not to drink alcohol on a night out, and one in five young adults believe that pressure from their peers influences them to drink more.
Griffiths agrees with these findings: “There is definitely the pressure from my friends and flatmates to drink. If you don’t drink alcohol you’re left out. It’s peer pressure that makes us do things like vodka eyeballing,” he says.
It’s no surprise that this dangerous drinking game is rising in popularity. When you search “vodka eyeballing” on YouTube it comes up with 106 hits, with many of the results showing clips of young adults doing a shot of vodka in their eye.
Media attention to this subject can also be demonstrated through Google which brings up 36,200 results on this topic. Facebook groups have also been set up supporting the new trend with forty-seven people “liking” one group named “vodka eyeballing”.
It could be said that this trend is not increasing in popularity because of students, but because of a media frenzy surrounding the subject. However, Griffiths disagrees with this saying that “it has nothing to do with the media” because
“students are doing it because they see other students doing it”. But he won’t be joining in again.