Lots of people get eye redness when they smoke cannabis and red eyes after smoking can be a giveaway sign that someone has consumed cannabis. For some people, red-eye is a given, while for others their eyes turning red only occurs sometimes, usually depending on the strength or the quantity of cannabis consumed.
So what causes red-eye when people smoke marijuana and is there anything you can do to limit, prevent or get rid of red bloodshot eyes?
What makes eyes red when smoking ?
The primary reason your eyes get red after smoking is that THC lowers blood pressure, in fact it initially causes increased heart rate and blood pressure but this quickly subsides and the blood pressure decreases.
When blood pressure lowers this causes blood vessels and capillaries to dilate leading to increased blood flow. THC is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis and the one that is responsible for getting you high, and also the compound that means medical marijuana is used to treat many medical conditions including chronic pain, nausea, anxiety and glaucoma.
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When ocular capillaries dilate this results in increased blood flow to the eyes which will reduce intraocular pressure. Increased blood flow to the eyes causing blood vessels to dilate is what gives you red eyes after smoking but when you reduce intraocular pressure this can help treat glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a disorder where the optic nerve is damaged, usually by fluid building up causing increased pressure. A condition that can eventually lead to blindness. The effects of THC can reduce that pressure, making red eyes an inconvenient side effect for some and a reason to smoke weed for others.
The fact that this effect is caused by THC can explain why you might not always get red eyes after smoking. Smoking a high THC strain will get you high but is very likely to give you bloodshot eyes. However low THC strains can deliver many medicinal benefits without causing blood vessels to dilate and making our eyes red when we smoke.
This means that changing your strain to one with a lower THC content can reduce red eyes from cannabis, but it will not have the same effect on intraocular pressure and thus not be as effective at treating glaucoma.
Does Eating Weed Make Your Eyes Red?
You might be wondering if edibles make your eyes red in the same way as smoked cannabis. The answer is yes. It is the amount of THC in the bloodstream that will cause red eyes not how it got there so whether you eat it or smoke it doesn’t really make a difference.
How do You Get Rid of Red Eyes?
First of all it is worth noting that your eyes turning red after smoking is not harmful, and your eyes will naturally return to normal as the effects of THC wear off and increased blood flow reduces.
In fact for some people increased blood flow to the eyes and decreased intraocular pressure is actually the effect they are looking for to treat the symptoms of their medical condition.
And even if the potential benefits of lower blood pressure are not the effects you are seeking, red eyes can still be seen as a positive effect. The more red your eyes get the more THC you have in your bloodstream, and if you are looking to get high this is a good thing.
However if you would rather not broadcast the fact you have been smoking cannabis there are a few things you can do to reduce and even get rid of red eyes.
Firstly, the easiest method is to not get red eyes in the first place by choosing strains that are lower in THC or not smoking as much. Depending on your medical condition you may be able to get the relief you need without any unwanted side effects. Talk to your dispensary, your doctor or other people with the same condition to see if there are strains they would recommend to treat your condition that are lower in THC. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different strains.
If you find yourself with bloodshot eyes there are a number of things you can do. One option is to schedule your treatment or smoking times so that no-one is going to notice your eyes, choose times when you can stay at home, or even have a pair of dark glasses for if you do have to go out.
Using an eye drop that is formulated to reduce red eyes. Eye drops can get rid of red eyes if they contain an active ingredient that constricts blood vessels returning the white of the eye to its natural color. Cold water can also restrict blood vessels so splashing your eyes with cold water can help, and caffeine, chocolate and salt are also known to cause vasoconstriction although it’s unlikely this will be as effective as specifically designed eye drops.
Staying hydrated will help prevent any discomfort from dry eyes, as the better hydrated you are the less likely your eyes will get dry, but as red bloodshot eyes are caused by THC interacting with cannabinoid receptors and dilating blood vessels, drinking more water is unlikely to help you get rid of red eye.
And finally remember that if you sit back and relax red eyes will eventually subside and your eyes will go back to normal without causing you any harm.
If you are using cannabis medicinally you can get a marijuana card today and start accessing the best quality weed at lower prices.