Weed will give you red eyes, whether you choose smoking, edibles, dabbing or vaping. This post from GreenCamp highlights why cannabis makes your eyes red and how to get rid of it.
Before we get into the specifics of the red eye syndrome, I just wanted to say that the redness of the sclera (also known as the white of the eye) is a completely non-dangerous side effect of cannabis consumption, so if you’ve found this article to check if you’re in any immediate danger do not fret, everything is quite alright.
On the other hand, if you want to get all the facts about the “red eyes condition” stay tuned, as we’re going to cover all there is to know about this classical pot-lover giveaway.
Why do your eyes get red when you’re high
Even though many people still believe that red eyes are caused by the smoke from a joint (or a blunt or a bong), this is completely untrue, because no matter what type of consumption a person chooses, ranging from smoking, edibles, dabbing or vaping, the red eyes are gonna be there.
The reason behind the redness is actually THC.
One of the many ways that tetrahydrocannabinol affects us is that it decreases our blood pressure.
If you’re unfamiliar with how blood pressure works, I suggest you watch this awesome animation from TED Education, so you’ll understand the continuation of this text more easily.
One of the effects of a decreased blood pressure is the expansion of our blood vessels (which include arteries, veins and capillaries).
In the case of our eyes, the ocular capillaries become dilated and take in more blood, which in favor makes the eyes appear more red in color, because of these expanded blood vessels on the surface of the sclera.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (by reducing blood pressure), also reduces the intraocular pressure of the eye. Increased intraocular pressure is the key factor for all glaucoma diseases, and lowering the IOP (or intraocular pressure), is the only way for us battle glaucoma, which when left untreated can results in a severe loss of vision, and ultimately blindness.
One of the first studies conducted on this correlation showed that high THC strains can lower the IOP in the range of 25% to 30%.
The main issue with treating glaucoma with marijuana is that the IOP needs to be constantly lowered in order for the eye to function properly (edibles are best for this because of their extended duration), while the second issue is that the users who constantly consume large quantities of THC can experience some side effects in their everyday life.
The difference in people
If you and the people around you regularly consume cannabis, you probably already noticed that the same strain has a very differing effect on different people.
These contrasting effects happen because of a couple of key factors which include genetics, gender, overall health and frequency of consumption (increased frequency causes cannabinoid tolerance).
You also might have noticed the same thing about the eyes. Some people get really intense bloodshot eyes, while on others the difference is barely visible, or even non-existent.
The redness is completely dependant on the person’s blood pressure. For instance, if you have a high blood pressure, THC won’t be able to decrease it enough for your eyes to become really super-red.
I myself actually have a completely opposite problem, as my blood pressure is rather low, so when I consume a potent THC strain, I literally look like the Terminator.
Besides the redness, I can also experience weakness in the legs and faint-like symptoms when the session includes several joints/blunts.
This of course doesn’t only come as a result of a low blood pressure, but is brought about from a complex equation of several factors I previously mentioned like age, sex, health, genetics etc…
Allergies can also play a factor in the overall “bloodshot volume”, as there are many people who are very sensitive to smoke. Not just cannabis smoke, but rather all smoke in general.
Another possibility for increased redness is cannabis allergy, but for users who have this unfortunate issue, red eyes is the least of their concerns. To find out more about this rare condition, click on the link above.
We’ve now summed up the entire science behind the red eyes, so in the continuation I’ll be focusing on what we can do to diminish this telltale, because sometimes we just don’t want everybody to know that we’re flying high.
How to get rid of red eyes after smoking weed
The most common way to alleviate your red eyes are of course various over-the-counter eye drops that are designed for eye allergies, redness and itchiness.
Pretty much all variations contain tetryzoline (also known as tetrahydrozoline), which is an alpha agonist that causes dilated blood vessels to constrict.
As I previously mentioned, THC makes our blood vessels and capillaries to dilate (directly causing the redness), so the eye drops reverse this effect and return our eyes to a normal state.
These types of medications are generally quite safe for use, but we here at Greencamp strongly recommend that you always carefully read the manual that comes with the drops.
There are a few alternatives to eye drops which can also constrict the blood vessels in our body, such as caffeine, chocolate, liquorice and sodium.
Also, a common misconception is that increased hydration can be used for reducing the redness of the eyes, which is unfortunately entirely false.
People frequently perceive the redness as a sign of dehydration, because they associate it with the accompanying sensation of dry mouth.
One of the many ways cannabis influences us is by activating the endocannabinoid receptors that are found in our salivary glands. Once excited by cannabinoids from weed, they slow down the fabrication of saliva, which causes us to feel like there’s a desert where our mouth used to be.