Estimated 4-minute read
Ever googled “why are my eyes red after smoking weed” or “can smoking weed damage your eyes” and Google is immediately like “yeah, you’re probably going to lose your eyesight”?
I’m exaggerating here, but one has to admit that sometimes google searches are more panic induced searches when we don’t know how to research or where to look at true information.
Before we dive any further on why weed gives consumers red, bloodshot eyes let me reassure you that you are not in danger. Getting red eyes from weed is actually a very common side effect of consuming cannabis, so let’s explore the reason behind it and learn how you can manage it.
Why Does Weed Make My Eyes Red?
First and foremost, let's start off by debunking a myth: Your eyes turning red have nothing to do with the smoke you or your smoking buddies are exhaling. In fact, ever noticed that eating a pot brownie or other edibles will also cause your eyes to become red? The culprit is THC.
According to Weed Maps, 10 to 15 minutes after people consume cannabis they generally experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, whether it’s smoking the flower, vaping concentrates, eating an edible, etc. This increase is completely normal and it also happens while doing physical activities such as exercising.
THC in the body will lead this game of rising and lowering. When heart rate and blood pressure increase, the latter will eventually lower in a modest hypotensive effect, meaning a decrease in blood pressure. Naturally, the blood vessels and capillaries will dilate, which in turn causes an increase in blood flow to the eyes. This increase in blood flow creates eye redness, while also reducing pressure in the eye, a process called intraocular pressure or IOP.
The previously explained process is actually very good news to patients with glaucoma – a group of eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerves which can eventually lead to blindness (Weed Maps, 2021.) Decreasing eye pressure is the benefit that glaucoma patients seek to treat and relieve symptoms; however, studies are still being carried out due to contradictory results.
It’s true that cannabis won’t always cause eye redness, Weed Maps mentions that the rise and fall of blood pressure –and in consequence, how red your eyes become– depends on the amount of THC you consume. Simply put it like this: the greater the THC concentration is, the stronger the intoxicating effects, causing the redder your eyes become.
Additionally, it’s not that the more red your eyes get, the better your weed is. It’s actually more along the lines of “the more THC concentration your weed has, the redder your eyes will get”. In other words, bloodshot eyes can also be an indicator of how potent the cannabis strain is.
How Long Will My Eyes Stay Red After Consuming Weed?
According to Leafwell, the red eyes after a cannabis ingestion will typically last from 1 to 2 hours; however, it all depends on how much THC has been consumed and how your system processes it, as well as each person’s body chemistry and the difference between cannabis strains. For some people, red eyes could last up to four hours.
How Do I Get Rid Of Cannabis Red Eyes?
Check out these different tips you can use.
Use over-the-counter eye drops, also known as OTC. These are designed for treating allergic reactions, as well as the most commonly used method to treat red eyes caused by cannabis.
There’s nothing like drinking water to help restore the dryness in your body.
I know this may sound contradictory against staying hydrated, but it turns out that caffeine carries out this little process called vasoconstriction. Similar to OTC, caffeine helps reduce blood flow in the eyes, eventually decreasing redness. Helpful beverages include coffee, tea, energy drinks and cola.
Place a cold compress over your eyes or try splashing cold water on your face to reduce red eyes. Cold will cause the blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow in your eyes.
If you’re getting tired of getting red eyes every time you consume cannabis, try changing to a strain that has less THC than what you usually take. This will reduce the chances of getting red eyes.
Remember the effects can last from 1 to 3 hours, so plan your smoking sessions or edible consumptions accordingly if you don’t want anyone to notice your stoned eyes.
If none of these tips work on you or you’re not entirely convinced, you could just let this side effect run its course. Remember that you have no reason to be concerned about the redness of your eyes; other than giving away that fact that you consumed cannabis, you have nothing to worry about.
Share your knowledge and good practices with us, what other remedies help you get rid of red eyes?
Author: Mary Jane
Bone, M. (2021). Why does weed make your eyes red? Weed Maps. Retrieved from https://weedmaps.com/learn/cannabis-and-your-body/eyes-turn-red-smoke-weed
Hemraj, D. How Long Do Red Eyes Last From Weed? Leafwell. Retrieved from https://leafwell.com/blog/how-long-do-red-eyes-last-from-weed/
Lland, R. (2022). Why do smoking cannabis and eating edibles cause red, bloodshot eyes? Leafly. Retrieved from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/why-does-smoking-weed-make-your-eyes-red