how to prevent red eyes when smoking weed

Why Cannabis Causes Red Eyes

Red eyes are the most obvious giveaway that someone has just polished off a fat joint. Although no big deal when you’re in the right setting, red eyes can give you away when you’re trying to be low-key about your passion for weed. Use the tips mentioned below to reduce eye redness after a joint, and learn how to prevent it in the first place.


After consuming cannabis, herb-lovers exhibit several signs that make it obvious they’ve indulged. Aside from intermittent giggling, a dopey smile, and a raging appetite, red eyes are one of the most obvious clues that someone has inhaled THC.

Having eyes as red as roses while sitting around with your smoking buddies is no big deal. However, strolling into work or public settings with bright red eyes can easily give the game away. Therefore, smokers should be familiar with a few strategies to conceal their altered state of consciousness. Continue reading to find out why weed makes your eyes red in the first place, how to get rid of red eyes, and how to prevent them from occurring to begin with.

What Causes Red or Bloodshot Eyes?

Of course, your eyes can turn red for reasons other than inhaling cannabis. Several associated symptoms can arise when the eyes turn red and you’re stone sober, including soreness, itchiness, watery eyes, and twitching. These symptoms are often caused by conditions such as:

  • Dry eyes
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Burst blood vessels
  • Blepharitis
  • Ingrown eyelash
  • Eyelid problems

The eyes can also become bloodshot for other reasons, such as drinking too much booze, staying awake all night, and reading in poor light conditions. The term “bloodshot” simply refers to the reddening of the whites of the eyes due to irritation or rupturing of the blood vessels.

However, none of these mechanisms explain why cannabis specifically makes the eyes red.

Why Does Cannabis Cause Red Eyes?

Cannabis causes the eyes to turn red for two primary reasons. One mechanism involves systemic changes, and the other involves external irritation.

Cannabis Lowers Blood Pressure

Cannabis strains containing moderate to high levels of THC appear to cause a slight drop in blood pressure [1] . This shift prompts the blood vessels and capillaries to dilate, in turn causing them to widen and allow more blood to pass through. After smoking weed, the small blood vessels in the eyes widen and deliver more blood into the eyes, making them appear red.

This mechanism also underpins the potential positive effects of cannabis [2] on conditions such as glaucoma—a pathology characterised by high levels of pressure within the eye. The vasodilation that occurs after smoking weed appears to reduce pressure within the eye.

Smoke Can Irritate the Eyes

Cannabis can also redden the eyes via irritation. Every smoker has experienced the misfortune of taking a plume of smoke to the eye at some point. This unpleasant sensation causes stinging and watering; however, this type of reddening usually clears up within a few minutes. In contrast, the other form of redness only resolves after the effects of THC begin to wear off.

How to Get Rid of Red Eyes

There are numerous strategies cannabis users can employ to reduce eye redness. Whether you’re on the way to a family gathering or couldn’t resist firing up a joint on your lunch break, use the tips below to conceal your high.

Eye Drops

In the modern era of cannabis, companies have developed products specifically to remedy the issue of red, bloodshot eyes. Cooling eye drops help to reverse the mechanism that underpins red eyes in the first place, and they do so very quickly. Apply drops according to the product instructions to return your eyes closer to their normal state.

Stay Hydrated

Keeping yourself topped up with water will help alleviate any dryness that accompanies your red eyes, possibly taking the edge off their newfound colour.

Throw on Some Sunglasses

If the two previous methods aren’t working, slap on some sunglasses as a last resort. Of course, how out-of-place this appears will vary greatly depending on the location and situation. If you’re meeting family for lunch under the Cali sun, you’ll get away with it. If you live under the grey skies of the UK and are catching up with your gran for dinner, you might look even more suspicious wearing them.

How to Prevent Red Eyes From Cannabis

Treating red eyes does work in some cases, but sometimes the stoned glow just can’t be contained. If you experience particularly extreme red eyes, you’ll want to focus on preventing the look as opposed to treating it. Use the tips below to avoid red eyes in the first place.

Smoke Low-THC Strains

If you’re in the mood for a smoke but have somewhere to be, consider smoking low-THC weed. Cannabis low in THC and high in CBD still offers an enjoyable and clear-headed effect, just without the glaring red eyes.

Eat, Vape, or Drink Your Cannabis

There are plenty of different ways to consume weed. Choosing an option that doesn’t carry the risk of introducing smoke into your eyes will help you avoid excessive redness caused by this irritating phenomenon. Do note, however, that these other forms will still cause red eyes due to systemic changes.

Are Red Eyes Dangerous?

No. The mechanism that underpins red eyes won’t hurt you. In fact, it might help you if you experience intraocular pressure. However, red eyes might get you into trouble in a different way. If you can’t risk getting caught high, red eyes can land you in a situation you’d rather not be in. Use the tips mentioned above to manage red eyes while enjoying cannabis whenever you so choose.

Ever wondered why your eyes appear red after smoking weed? Discover the science that underpins this phenomenon, and learn how to treat and prevent it.

How to Prevent Red Eyes After Consuming Cannabis

Tuesday January 7, 2020

T here’s nothing wrong with smoking some weed every now and then to chill yourself out or make your daily routine a little more fun. As long as you’re not operating heavy machinery, performing surgery, or running point on a hostage negotiation, you’re usually all good. Still, it’s better to stay discreet when possible. Being stoned is pretty fun, but there are few thoughts that will harsh your experience faster than “Everyone around me knows that I’m high.”

Of course, you already know the basics of how to cover up a quick toke. You can hide the smell by smoking outside, minting up your breath, changing your clothes, or using a dry herb vape. However, the one thing that’s hardest to hide is a case of red eyes. There’s a reason that it’s one of the most well-known signs of having indulged in some herb.

While some smokers never have to deal with red eyes, they are a lucky few. (They probably never get cottonmouth either.) Others deal with red eye their first few times smoking weed and then never again. Other consumers deal with it every time as though it’s some type of curse.

Whether or not you get red eye has a lot to do with your genetics, the strain being smoked, and other factors. For example, the more often you indulge, the less prominent the red eye will be. Much like time perception, your body seems to get used to it and adjust the more you do it.

What Causes Red Eyes After Smoking Cannabis?

Despite what you may think, it’s not the irritants in the smoke wafting up from your bowl or your joint that give your peepers that “Just went through a wind tunnel” look. It’s not from the coughing either. One of the effects of THC, the cannabinoid molecule doing most of the heavy lifting in marijuana, is that it can lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, where this effect is most noticeable is in the windows to the soul, your eyes.

As the pressure lowers in your inner eyeball, the small capillaries and blood vessels running through the whites of your eyes have more room to stretch out – thus, they become much more visible.

On the plus side, this is exactly why cannabis has been used as a medicine to treat glaucoma for years. By lowering intraocular pressure in the eye, it alleviates impaired vision by increasing the flow of nutrients into the ocular nerves. There’s even evidence that cannabis can help treat a number of symptoms of eye problems, and may help to prevent long term retinal damage.

How to Prevent or Get Rid of Red Eyes

Red eye from smoking cannabis will go away on its own after a couple of hours. But if you’re in a situation that you can’t just wait out, there are a couple of options that can help you recover faster so that you don’t have to blame a fake diagnosis of dual pink eye.

Eye Drops

This is of course, the standard red eye relief. Whether the owners of eye drop brands like Visine know it or not, stoners have helped to put their kids and grandkids through college since the 1970s. (They know).

If you know you’re going to be burning one down before attending a social gathering, it’s best to put a small bottle of eye drops in your pocket or purse (there’s a reason they’re sold in travel size). If you forgot yours at home or need it one the fly, they’ll be available in any drug store, grocery store, convenience store, or gas station (there’s a reason for that too). Just one or two drops and your Incredible Hulk-sized blood vessels will shrink back down to Bruce Banner proportions in no time. Only use the recommended amount, though.

Drink Some Water

Sometimes red eye can be caused by dehydration from other issues, such as drinking too much caffeine or not staying hydrated on a hot day. A glass or two of water may help clear your whites out a little. It’s also a healthy choice for your body and may help with any dry mouth you’re experiencing.

Cold Compress or Ice Pack

If you’re near a refrigerator, or even a sink with frigid water, a cold compress can make a big difference. Like some other body parts, blood vessels shrink down when they get cold. This should hide the red and also wake you up a little.

Get a towel or cloth wet, put some ice in it if it’s available, and hold it onto your closed eyes for about 5-10 minutes. When you no longer look like you stared into a wind tunnel, take off the compress and go on with your day.

Low-THC Strains

If red eyes are a regular issue, then the solution might be to decrease the amount of THC that you are consuming when you smoke up. Since THC is the main culprit, avoiding it should fix the problem. Low THC strains don’t necessarily mean less of a good time. There are still plenty of cannabinoids and terpenes that combine through the entourage effect into a fantastic experience.


Look, if you can’t get to some eye drops or a cold compress, your options are already pretty limited. You can either lie about having just watched a particularly emotional episode of This Is Us, or you can throw on some shades and be the coolest person in the room, or at least the most mysterious. If you’re outside and the sun’s out, even better.

Red eye is not a huge deal and something that can be easily taken care of with a little planning ahead or a little triage in the moment. Like dry mouth, it’s a minor annoyance that comes with indulging the herb. And like dry mouth, a little preparation can go a long way towards enjoying your high and the rest of your day.

Do you have any tips for avoiding red eyes after consuming cannabis? Share your thoughts and experiences with other readers in the comments below.

Everyone knows that consuming cannabis poses the risk of having red eyes in return. Luckily, there are several ways to prevent getting red eyes after smoking weed. Learn the top tips and tricks for making sure your eyes don't turn red after consuming marijuana.