Why Does Weed Make Your Eyes Red?
A telltale sign that you or someone you know has smoked Marijuana is the bloodshot eyes it can cause. You can’t miss them. If you vape weed instead of smoke it, will you also have these red eyes or can you avoid this side effect?
Yes, both smoking and vaping Cannabis will lead to red eyes. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC causes your eyes to redden as your ocular capillaries swell up. Since there’s still THC present in the marijuana you vape, you can expect to have reddened eyes. In fact, with a stronger high compared to smoking marijuana, your eyes might get even redder than usual.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the reasons marijuana can redden your eyes like this. We’ll even throw in a few tips for getting rid of the redness, so keep reading. You won’t want to miss this one!
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Why Does Marijuana Make Your Eyes Red?
Once you take a hit from a joint, you can soon expect reddened eyes. These don’t look like eye irritation, where your eyes become watery and red. It’s not quite like the eye condition pink eye, either. Instead, your eyes can look very bloodshot.
Why does this happen?
It all has to do with the tetrahydrocannabinol in marijuana, more commonly referred to as THC. The THC will boost both your blood pressure and your heart rate after you first start smoking. This alone isn’t abnormal, as blood pressure and heart rate spikes happen normally in our day-to-day lives, like when we get a good exercise session in.
After the spike, your blood pressure and heart rate should drop back down to where they were.
In fact, your blood pressure might go somewhat lower than usual. When it dips to those points, this affects your ocular capillaries. These are the blood vessels in your eyes. They’ll dilate during your blood pressure shifts so more blood moves through the capillaries. This in turn reddens your eyes.
Now, it’s not blood in your eyes. It’s just your ocular capillaries getting bigger and swollen with the stuff. There’s no reason to worry about this damaging your eyes, because it doesn’t.
In fact, some medical professionals will use a form of cannabis as a glaucoma treatment. That’s because marijuana can lessen the eyes’ intraocular pressure after that initial 10-minute period.
You may have another question about marijuana making your eyes red. How come sometimes your eyes only get a little red, but other times they’re very bloodshot? It actually has to do with how much THC you ingest. If it’s only a little bit, then you’ll have semi-reddened eyes and a slight high. If there’s a lot of THC in your marijuana, you’ll notice your eyes get much redder and you have a more intense high.
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Does Vaping Cannabis Cause Red Eyes?
Okay, so you know marijuana makes your eyes red, and now you’re aware of why this happens. What about when you vape marijuana?
Yes, you’ll still get reddened eyes.
It generally doesn’t matter what kind of cannabis product you use. From edibles like gummies and brownies to concentrates and even cannabis flower, there’s still THC in all these products. The same goes for the e-liquid vapers use.
The THC will cause the same reaction we just described. First your blood pressure and heart rate will go up. Then, about 10 minutes later, your blood pressure drops enough that your eyes’ ocular capillaries dilate. This makes your eyes red.
This article on Live Science from late 2018 cites a study done at Baltimore, Maryland’s Johns Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit. The researchers had 17 people join the study, all marijuana users, although not necessarily regular ones. The participants engaged in six marijuana use sessions, which lasted eight and a half hours each.
Some of those in the study vaped and others smoked marijuana. The THC dosage varied from zero to 25 milligrams. Then the researchers tested the blood pressure and heart rate of the participants during each eight-hour session.
What did they find? Vaping can give you a stronger high than smoking marijuana. The researchers noted that THC concentrations in the blood increased with vaping versus smoking.
So what does that mean in terms of reddened eyes? Well, as we wrote about in the last section, how red your eyes get depends on how much THC you ingest. If there’s more THC in an average vaping e-liquid than a joint, then you should expect much redder eyes when vaping than smoking.
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How to Get Rid of Your Red Eyes
Having red eyes of this nature makes it pretty obvious you enjoy marijuana. That’s fine and good in the privacy of your own home, but if you have to be a functioning member of society, you probably don’t want anyone to know what you were doing. Can you make your eyes look less red and quick?
Yes, you can try a few methods, but not all work ASAP.
For starters, you can sip on some water. Getting more fluids in your body might reduce any dryness associated with your red eyes. That could in turn make your eyes look less bloodshot, but there’s no guarantees.
Some vapers and marijuana smokers will have eye drops on hand to cut down on their eye redness. Any over-the-counter product ought to work to this effect, but the results can vary. It will certainly depend how red your eyes are. If they’re just a little red, then eye drops might work. If you have very red eyes from vaping, then you probably can’t get rid of the redness completely with drops.
Otherwise, the best treatment for your red eyes is time. It may take anywhere between two and five hours for your eyes to return to normal. The more THC you ingested, the longer your wait.
Of course, if you have to go somewhere right away and you don’t have the luxury of waiting several hours, then begin rehydrating yourself immediately. That should help somewhat, as should using eye drops. If none of those truly do the trick, then try wearing sunglasses (if you can) so you can obscure your eyes until they become less red.
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The Final Puff
Smoking cannabis will give you telltale reddened eyes. This happens as the THC enters your system. First your blood pressure goes up, and then your heart rate. Within about 10 minutes, as your blood pressure begins to drop back down, your eyes change. Your ocular capillaries dilate, letting more blood flow through them. As the capillaries become more swollen, your eyes look bloodshot and thus redder.
The same thing happens when vaping the weed. In fact, how red your eyes become depends on how much THC you ingest. Since you can get higher when vaping than smoking, your eyes may turn even redder than what you’re used to.
By drinking water, using eye drops, and waiting it out, the redness will subside. On its own, this can take a few hours. There’s no need to panic if you vape and have red eyes, then. They won’t stay this way forever.
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