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Why do we get red eyes from smoking weed?
08 May 2022
We all remember arriving home after a smoky evening with bloodshot eyes from smoking pot right?! Trying to hide it from our parents so they wouldn't notice we're high. The familiar red and glassy-eyed stare of someone who’s high was previously thought to be due to the irritation of eyes by pot smoke. But now we know more so let's find out.
Marijuana has a lot of active ingredients. Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) is only one of the many (>113) cannabinoids present in cannabis. These compounds interact with cannabinoid receptors, which are part of the endocannabinoid system. They’re found throughout your body, notably, in your eyes.
Cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors and induce the dilation, or widening, of the blood vessels. This increases the blood flow to these areas and causes an overall decrease in blood pressure. The increased blood flow to your eyeball causes the red appearance, and the lowered blood pressure causes the dizziness.
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. This is why after consuming cannabis the plant is so famous as a treatment for glaucoma.
Red eyes can still occur even without smoke, such as when eating edibles. It’s not the smoke that makes your eyes red, but the cannabinoids.
That being said, it’s also possible for some to have an allergic reaction to cannabis or to smoke in general, which can increase eye redness. A reaction of this nature would likely be universal to smoke and would likely include sensitivity to cannabis, tobacco, and perhaps even incense.
How do I get the redness out of my eyes?!
Getting red eyes from consuming cannabis is harmless, and as we mentioned above, smoking can actually reduce eye pressure. However, getting red eyes isn’t always welcome. Here are a few steps to take to minimize or reduce eye redness during or after smoking.
Eye drops. Certain brands are specially formulated to reduce eye redness.
Stay hydrated. Drinking water can help alleviate dryness in your body.
Let them run their course. Ultimately, red eyes are not harmful, there just may be some stigma associated with them. Plan smoke sessions for times when you’ll be at home or not in public if you’re concerned about getting red eyes.
The redder the better?
The amount your blood pressure is lowered and how red your eyes become depends on the amount of cannabinoids you consume.
THC, the most common cannabinoid in the plant, is responsible f or 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.
What happens if I add tobacco to my joint?
Many of the chemicals in tobacco have been linked to a range of additional vision health risks, including an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and thyroid eye disease as well as interfering with the production of tears causing dry eye syndrome, blurred vision, color vision changes, and an increased risk of contact lens-related corneal ulcers.
Because tobacco exposes users to these nasty chemicals, it is important to understand all the negative effects to protect your overall health. So think twice before you add tobacco to that sweet sensimilia.
So, 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.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article :) Feel free to share with your friends.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html. Accessed [September 24, 2019]
2 American Optometric Association, Smoking, Vaping, and Your Eyes Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.aoa.org/documents/Smoking_Vaping_and_Your_Eyes_FactSheet.pdf. Accessed [September 24, 2019]
3 It’s Not the Smoke from a Joint That Makes Your Eyes Red from Ada McVean https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/did-you-know/its-not-smoke-joint-makes-your-eyes-red
4 Why do smoking cannabis and eating edibles cause red, bloodshot eyes? from Rae Lland https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/why-does-smoking-weed-make-your-eyes-red
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