Video: "Vodka Eyeballing" Goes Global

By Will Godfrey 10/10/11

A bizarre method of vodka-ingestion is now causing concern Down Under, but eye experts call it a painful and dangerous way not to get drunk.

Blind drunk Photo via

It really is what it sounds like. "Vodka eyeballing"—the practice of taking a "shot" of vodka by tipping a bottleful on to your exposed eyeball for a harder hit—seems to be conquering the English-speaking world. It's been widely observed on US college campuses since last year and unsurprisingly Brits—such as those in the video below—have proved equally enthusiastic. Although The Atlantic caled the trend "likely more of a media-hyped YouTube phenomenon than actual craze," it's now become widespread enough to have caused concern down in Australia this week. Dr. Mark Medownick, the medical director of Medownick Laser Eye Clinic in Victoria, told the Herald Sun that vodka eyeballing is "dangerous and stupid," and that "vodka belongs in the mouth, not the eye." He explained: "Direct application of alcohol to the delicate tissues of the cornea can cause excruciating pain, burns and ulceration... It may even lead to temporary blindness until the corneal surface heals." And potential damage to the optic nerve could possibly make the blindness permanent. What's more, vodka eyeballing may not actually achieve its aim of getting the "drinker" drunk faster. Although Dr. Elise Brisco of the Hollywood Vision Center told KTLA last year that the technique gives you an extra buzz, "because it's going into the central nervous system into the brain," other experts disagree. "The number of blood vessels in the conjunctiva, the outer skin of the eye, is not enough to promote significant absorption," said Medownick. Meanwhile one young Australian who's witnessed the bizarre practice gave another reason for its ineffectiveness: "You don't get drunk faster because most of the vodka goes on the floor."


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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.