The conversion can make the code 10x greater in size
Yes, the sightly encoding is not very compact.
Have you considered adding an extra conversion step before feeding the code to Acme::EyeDrops
? Even something fairly simple, like removing all comments or unnecessary whitespace may make a significant difference.
Of course, there is a risk this pre-processing step may break your code, especially with things like "here documents". There may be tools that can help here, Perl::Tidy
for example, or even more specialized ones that replace long identifiers with very short ones, though I have little experience in this domain.