Besides the fixed silly smile on your face, one of the most common telltale signs that you’re high or have recently smoked weed is red, bloodshot eyes. This is an expected outcome, yet it remains a mystery to many stoners. Novices are particularly prone to going on a panic-induced internet search, asking if it may cause eye damage.

Why does pot make your eyes go red? Why are some people more likely to experience it, while others much less? As with many other effects of cannabis, how red your squinted peepers get depends on individual THC tolerance and the amount of weed enjoyed. We’ll tell you all about it and more in this article.

Why You Get Red, Bloodshot Eyes After Smoking Weed?

Seasoned cannabis users know that the red-eye effect does not come with any serious health risks. Your “weed eyes” may earn you some suspecting looks and teasing, but it’s unlikely to cause an allergic reaction or harmful complications. Quite contrary, this natural and common phenomenon is the primary reason why marijuana is recommended to glaucoma patients.

Red Eye
Increase of blood flow to the eyes, resulting in the red-eye

Alright then, but what causes this occurrence that tells everyone who catches sight of you that you’ve just taken a hit?

The effect of THC on Blood Pressure

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) lowers your blood pressure as it enters the bloodstream. As the BP takes a plunge, your blood vessels and capillaries expand. The dilation of ocular capillaries reduces intraocular pressure and triggers the increase of blood flow to the eyes, resulting in the red-eye effect.

This mechanism of action of THC in the human body makes marijuana medicinally beneficial to glaucoma patients. While it doesn’t completely solve the health condition caused by damaged optic nerve due to elevated pressure within the eye, it lessens intraocular pressure (IOP) in 60% to 65% of people struggling with glaucoma and non-sufferers alike.

THC Levels

Because THC is the culprit behind red eyes, any form of cannabis, such as dried buds, concentrates, edibles, and tinctures, with ample load of the psychoactive cannabinoid can cause this occurrence. Put simply, it’s the THC dosage and not how you get the compound into your system that matters.

The more THC that reaches your bloodstream, the redder your eyes become. On the other hand, low-THC marijuana products or smaller doses produce little to no red eyes.

Allergy to Cannabis

Although still relatively uncommon, cases of cannabis allergies have been rising at a steady rate since the legalization. Hypersensitivity to phytocannabinoids from weed is actually real and not just an excuse from friends or colleagues who suddenly showup with eyes swelling up like stoplights. The herb can turn your eyes beet red and produce other allergic symptoms such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthmatic signs, and skin rashes. That said, it may not be an allergy to cannabis itself as the pollen from marijuana flowers may very well trigger similar reactions.

7 Ways to Prevent or Get Rid of Red Eyes

The reddening of the eyes due to marijuana consumption is more often than not harmless. As mentioned, it may even be beneficial for people struggling with increased blood pressure. That said, sporting red, glassy eyes is not a desirable look, and it tends to make weed users feel self-conscious. Most prefer to avoid it if possible, especially those who need to interact with other people. Thankfully, there are some clever steps you can do to prevent or get rid of red eyes.

Go for Low-THC Strains

Because THC is the reason why users experience red eyes, opting for strains and cannabis products with low THC content will leave you with but a mild case of red eyes at the most. Also consume with restraint to ensure the total dose remains modest. You can have your pick of strains with varying potency here.

Medical Marijuana feature
Marijuana THC and CBD

It is unclear if high-CBD strains are a better alternative as quite a few CBD users have experienced eye redness. Clinical research on this cannabinoid’s effects on intraocular blood pressure also vary. While one claims a single dose of CBD reduces blood pressure, the other verified its potential vasodilatory influence, which means it may increase intraocular blood pressure instead of lowering it.

Wait It Out

When waiting for your red eyes to disappear, be reminded of the old adage “this, too, shall pass.” The effects of low to moderate dosages of THC typically wear off after a couple of hours, so waiting it out is the best and simplest course to take. If, however, you ended up getting your head smashed to the ground with way more weed than you can handle, you’d be super high to care about red eyes or go anywhere but your couch.

Reach for Eye Drops

If waiting is not an option, say you were called for an urgent meeting you could not skip, then the best option is to use eye drops formulated for relieving red eyes. Eye drops such as Visine, Clear Eyes, Rohto V, and Opcon-A are mainstays in the 420 community and have helped tokers remain inconspicuous for many years. Such products reduce both eyes dryness and redness, so when you deny having spent a lovely time with Mary Jane, people will actually believe you.

Apply a Cold Compress

If you have access to a washcloth soaked in frigid water, an ice pack, or even just a chilled spoon, a cold compress can help relieve bloodshot eyes. As with other parts of the body, blood vessels constrict when they get cold treatments. This reaction is more formally known as vasoconstriction, and it results in restricted blood flow. We recommend holding the cold material onto your eyes for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce your eyes’ redness significantly. It should also give you a bit of wake-up shock.

Cloth on cold water for red eye
Wash cloth soaked in cold water

Have Some Caffeine

Unbeknownst to many, caffeine is a potent vasoconstrictor. High-caffeine products like coffee, tea, and dark chocolate can effectively trigger the narrowing of blood vessels. Plus, they are easily accessible and enjoyable to consume, with or without the munchies.

Stay Well-Hydrated

Increasing fluid intake won’t reduce the redness of your eyes, but it will alleviate the dry sensations, providing a bit of comfort. Think water is boring? You don’t have to stick with good ol’ agua. You can enjoy a cup of freshly squeezed citrus juice if you like.

Bring Out Your Favorite Sunglasses

Alright, wearing sunglasses won’t prevent or lessen the redness of your eyes, but, you gotta admit, it hides what needs to be hidden — your high eyes — and makes you look good at the same time. Of course, only do this when the sun is out.

Girl with sunglasses
Hippie girl with blue sunglasses

Don’t Panic

Having a pair of glossy, red eyes after smoking weed should not be a cause of panic. It’s not harmful and may even be beneficial to glaucoma patients. Think of it as a minor inconvenience that comes with getting high and achieving the benefits of THC.

The red-eye effect can be easily taken care of with modest dosing and a little planning ahead. If you can’t head out of the house with your weed eyes, try our suggestions — use eye drops, do a cold compress, or have a high-caffeine drink or food. You may also opt for a low-THC strain to have a milder case next time. Oh, by the way, do you have any tips for preventing red, bloodshot eyes after marijuana consumption?  What’s your best excuse for shooting laser eyes when someone asked? We’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts and experiences with other cannabis enthusiasts in the comments below. Also check our autoflowering, feminized, high-CBD, and regular seeds if you prefer to grow your own stash or plan to.