Why does weed make your eyes red?
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- Under pressure: lower blood pressure and dilated capillaries
- Do edibles make your eyes red?
- The redder the better?
Among the most common effects of marijuana use (and telltale signs you’ve recently partaken) is red, bloodshot eyes. It’s to be expected, sure, but that doesn’t answer the mysterious question pondered by generations of stoners: why does weed make your eyes red?
For weed novices, the onset of bloodshot eyes could cause a panic-induced internet search asking “ can smoking weed damage your eyes? ” Thankfully, as those who regularly consume cannabis can tell new users, there are no serious health risks associated with your sudden red-eyed circumstance. You’re probably not experiencing an allergic reaction or some bigger complication. Some might poke fun or chastise you for sporting your so-called “ weed eyes ” in public, but otherwise, it’s a completely natural occurrence that transpires after smoking cannabis.
In fact, your eyes turning red has nothing to do with the act of smoking at all.
Under pressure: lower blood pressure and dilated capillaries
After consuming a cannabis-based product (flower, concentrate, edible, etc.), users generally experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This effect is due to the plant’s cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds responsible for some of the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of cannabis, and their initial interaction with the body. This rise in blood pressure and heart rate is comparable to normal physical activities like exercise or sex.
It generally takes about five to ten minutes for users’ heart rates to return to normal and for blood pressure to begin to decrease. As the blood pressure lowers, the blood vessels and capillaries dilate, including the ocular capillaries . The dilation of ocular capillaries causes increased blood flow to the eyes, which results in your eyes turning red and also reduces intraocular pressure.
The dilation of ocular capillaries causes increased blood flow to the eyes, which results in your eyes turning red in the process, and also reduces intraocular pressure. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
In fact, according to Dr. Melanie Bone, a board-certified OB-GYN who practices in West Palm Beach, Florida, “It’s cannabis’ ability to reduce intraocular pressure in the eyes that makes it a potentially viable treatment for glaucoma , a group of eye disorders that causes damage to the optic nerves which can eventually lead to blindness. It also happens to explain why your eyes become bloodshot after smoking cannabis.”
Evidence that the THC found in cannabis can lower intraocular pressure (IOP) is a major reason why many glaucoma patients have attempted to use medical marijuana to treat and relieve symptoms of the disease. It’s important to know that some studies have contradicted or added a caveat to the claim that cannabis is beneficial for glaucoma. For instance, a 2018 study conducted at Indiana University found that cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana, could potentially worsen the condition by increasing eye pressure . More research into the use of cannabis for glaucoma treatment is needed.
Do edibles make your eyes red?
Similar to smoking cannabis, ingesting edibles could also make your eyes turn red. Again, this depends on the amount of THC consumed. Remember, it’s not the smoke itself that makes your eyes red, but rather the ability that cannabinoids have to lower blood pressure, causing blood vessels and capillaries to dilate.
The redder the better?
The amount your blood pressure is lowered and how red your eyes become depends on the amount of THC you consume.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most common cannabinoid in the plant, is responsible for the intoxication associated with smoking cannabis. The greater the concentration of THC in a cannabis product, the stronger the effects and the redder your eyes become.
The greater the concentration of THC in a cannabis product, the stronger the effects and the redder your eyes become.
So, red eyes can act as a sign that your cannabis has a high cannabinoid content (i.e., it’s potent). In other words, if your eyes are noticeably bloodshot after consumption, there’s a good chance you’ve landed yourself some highly potent weed.
Other than being a dead giveaway that you’ve recently consumed cannabis, you have no reason to be concerned about the redness of your eyes. Cannabis-induced eye redness will typically only last a few hours and can easily resolve if you have the right tools at your disposal.
It isn’t a bad idea to have eye drops (or some sunglasses) on hand. Look for eye drop brands that are specifically designed to reduce eye redness. There are other methods that could potentially help combat cannabis-induced bloodshot eyes, including staying hydrated, washing your face and eyelids with cold water, or simply consuming cannabis products with lower THC levels.
Ever wonder why using marijuana or cannabis makes your eyes red or bloodshot? Discover why weed gives you bloodshot eyes.
How to Get Rid of Red Eyes After Smoking Cannabis
When smoking cannabis, you’ve probably encountered the “red-eye syndrome”. It’s easy to tell when someone has been smoking cannabis because the white of the eye (sclera) turns red. Luckily for you, it’s completely harmless and doesn’t affect you in any way, other than being a quicker indicator to others that you smoke.
Want to find out how to help alleviate red eyes? We have gathered a few reasons why this happens and how you can get rid of it.
Why do your eyes turn red?
To start, many people assume that red eyes are caused by the smoke exhaled after smoking flower or a vape, but this is actually untrue. Although smoking obviously produces a lot of smoke that could get in your eyes, that’s not actually the reason for your red eyes. No matter how you take in cannabis, your eyes will still turn red.
The reason is actually that of the THC inside of cannabis. This is the compound that gives you the euphoric feeling you’ve come to expect when smoking, and one of the effects it has is decreasing your blood pressure. This ultimately leads to the expansion of our blood vessels to allow more blood to flow around our body. In the case of eyes, it means that our ocular capillaries are dilated so that they can take in more blood. These expanded blood vessels make the white of the eye appear red, hence the effect.
However, THC also reduces the intraocular pressure of the eye. Increased intraocular pressure is a key factor when it comes to glaucoma diseases. Lowering the intraocular pressure is actually the way we battle against glaucoma. If left untreated, it could lead to a severe loss of vision and also blindness. This is why THC strains can actually help to lower intraocular pressure anywhere between 25 to 30%.
The amount your eyes “turn” red will vary from person to person. If you smoke the same strain with someone else, you might notice that their eyes stay relatively white while yours can go extremely red, or vice versa. A number of factors can affect this, such as your genetics, sex, health and also how often you smoke. The redness is completely dependant on your blood pressure and it can last varying different timeframes as well.
Getting rid of red eyes
The most common way to get rid of bloodshot eyes after smoking is to use over-the-counter eye drops that are designed to overcome allergies. These contain tetryzoline which is an alpha agonist that causes dilated blood vessels to constrict. As previously mentioned, THC makes blood vessels and capillaries dilate, thus causing the redness. Eye drops can reverse this effect, returning your eyes to their normal whiteness and helping to relieve red eyes very quickly. This is a safe method to get rid of bloodshot eyes and it’s recommended that you read through the manual in order to get a good understanding of how to use them properly.
This is generally the best and fastest way to get rid of red eyes, but there are also other alternatives that can help constrict the blood vessels to reduce redness. This includes consuming chocolate, more sodium or even caffeine.
However, a misconception that you might hear is drinking more water to help you reduce redness in the eyes. This is sadly entirely false. Red eyes are not a sign of dehydration so no amount of water intake will help you get rid of bloodshot eyes.
The redness in your eyes isn’t anything serious, so you shouldn’t be alarmed. There’s nothing to be worried about and you’re generally not going to suffer any negative effects if do you have red eyes, but it can be worrying if you’re expected to attend a meeting or a work-related event.
So in short, get yourself some eye drops! They’re the fastest and easiest way to get rid of bloodshot eyes, and you’ll typically find them at the nearest pharmacy or convenience store!
How to Get Rid of Red Eyes After Smoking Cannabis When smoking cannabis, you’ve probably encountered the “red-eye syndrome”. It’s easy to tell when someone has been smoking cannabis because the