OBJECTIVES: The influence of low-dose alcohol intake on reflexive visually guided saccades was investigated.
METHODS: 40 healthy human subjects were orally given alcohol resulting in low-dose alcohol concentration (less than 0.8‰) blood alcohol concentration. Before and after exposure, horizontal saccadic eye movements were recorded at several points in time. The recordings were evaluated with regard to accuracy of the eye movements, latency, the peak eye velocity and the time constant that characterizes the main sequence. The results were compared to recordings from a reference group.
RESULTS: It was found that the saccadic eye movement was clearly altered by low-dose alcohol intake. However, its characteristics were not unambiguously pathological when compared to the reference group, even though the subjects reported a moderate to strong effect of alcohol and there were clear signs of inebriation.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings render the evaluation of saccades unsuitable as a simple test for the detection of low-dose alcohol intake.