Having red eyes is one of those tell-tale signs that someone is stoned or has recently smoked weed. Even in film and television, stoner characters are always caricatured as having extremely bloodshot eyes. But is this stereotype based in fact? Are there real, scientific reasons that our eyes get red when we smoke weed? As we will find out, there’s a reason for your eyes getting red from smoking weed – but it may not be what you think.
What Causes Eye Redness When Smoking?
One of the side-effects of THC interacting with your system is low blood pressure. Upon smoking, your heart rate will increase, as will your blood pressure. After about five to ten minutes, your blood pressure begins to drop, causing your blood vessels and capillaries to expand, or dilate, to allow for the increase of blood flow. If you’re wondering why eyes get red when high, it’s because the ocular capillaries will also dilate upon consuming THC, increasing blood flow to the eyes. This is what gives the appearance of red eyes on the surface of the eye – the sclera – after smoking weed.
How Long Does THC Stay In Your System?
Your Eyes Can Become Red From Edibles, Too
Because the reddening of the eyes is connected to the side-effects of THC and not the act of smoking itself, your eyes can also experience redness if you eat edibles that contain THC. The severity of eye redness from edibles will depend upon the amount of THC in the edibles themselves – as many types of edibles tend to be higher in CBD than THC, they may cause no eye redness at all. However, if your edible contains enough THC (around 10mg or more), it will lower your blood pressure and increase your blood flow, including into the ocular capillaries.
It Depends: Factors In Causing Redness
The redness of your eyes will depend upon the strain of weed you’re using, as different strains will contain different amounts of THC. There are other factors that can also affect the redness of a person's eyes, but these vary from person to person. Those with high blood pressure will probably not experience such eye redness because, even though THC lowers blood pressure, it may not lower theirs enough to dilate the ocular capillaries to such an extent. Conversely, this means people with naturally low blood pressure may experience extra redness. The redness of the eyes can also be dependent on a person's personal THC tolerance, frequency of consumption, or sensitivity to smoke.
Are There Ways To Avoid Redness?
Although you can try to avoid redness, having red eyes is not bad for you and there are no negative side-effects that come from this after smoking weed or eating edibles. If you want to avoid redness in your eyes, you can avoid using strains that are high in THC and opt for those higher in CBD instead. The other factors in causing redness will vary from person to person, so you’ll need to know your own limits and your body enough to see when redness begins to occur if you want to avoid it.
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A Solution For Red Eyes
Having red eyes when smoking weed is pretty unavoidable. However, you may find yourself in a situation where being obviously high would be unacceptable, or perhaps you’re someone who already has sensitive eyes, so added redness would be an irritant for you. Either way, there are some remedies that will help you get rid of red eyes caused by weed.
Be sure to stay properly hydrated whenever you consume THC. Keeping hydrated will definitely reduce the symptoms of dry mouth, but it can also help in relieving eye redness and irritation. Drinking water and being fully hydrated can sometimes help raise your blood pressure, which can in turn counteract the effects of THC lowering your blood pressure, thereby reducing eye redness.
Use Anti-Reddening Eye Drops
Get yourself some eye drops that counter redness to rid yourself of red eyes. Most over-the-counter eye drops contain tetryzoline, an anti-antagonist that constricts dilated blood vessels. Using eye drops will constrict the blood vessels in your eyes, causing the redness to eventually dissipate. Be sure not to use chemical eye drops too frequently, as they can cause dryness and irritation. Instead, rotate between chemical eye drops and artificial tears, which will provide hydration.
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I Wear My Sunglasses At Night
Though sunglasses won't cure your eye redness or make your red eyes go away by any means, they can be a good protective shield to the outside world. They’re great for when you’re looking to avoid awkward social situations or just don't want people to know you’re high. Sunglasses will also protect your eyes from natural sunlight, which can be damaging to your eyes and cause them to stay red for a longer period of time.
At-Home Natural Remedies for Redness
There are also several natural remedies you can try at home to reduce your eye redness. You can try placing an ice pack on your eyelids – just be sure not to leave it there for too long. Placing droplets of rose water on the eyelids and around the eyes can also be helpful, or you can also try placing slices of cucumber over your eyes. These are all chemical-free ways to provide your eyes with some natural relief and bring on a soothing effect.
Finally Understanding Eye Redness
Although there are real, medical reasons why your eyes experience redness when you’re high, there are no serious health risks associated with sudden red eyes. This is a normal side-effect of the THC reacting in your body, and can even be a positive sign that the cannabis has a good amount of cannabinoids. However, there are plenty of ways to avoid, conceal or reduce eye redness if necessary, so hopefully, you won't worry the next time you have red eyes after smoking.