It’s hard to get away with a great high when your eyes are hazy, puffy, and bloodshot. Eye drops may protect you a bit. Sunglasses and tinted contacts might help. But it sure is annoying.
So why do your eyes go red when you smoke up? Is there a scientific explanation? And what can you do to keep your peepers clear, white, and innocent-looking?
Weed is not the only intoxicating drug that causes red eyes. Too much alcohol, too much cocaine, almost any amount of methamphetamine will turn your eyes bloodshot. But it all depends on the person.
Some people are simply more sensitive to red eyes, and there’s not an awful lot that can be done to change that. Most potheads will have the experience at least once, but it’s far more common for some users than others. If your eyes tend toward the bloody, you’ll just have to work harder at covering up.
Here’s why it happens:
THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana, lowers blood pressure. This then causes blood vessels in the eyes to expand, or dilate. As the ocular capillaries dilate, blood flow increases and pressure inside the eyes drops. The extra blood flow gives the expanded capillaries their bloodshot look, creating a web of red within the whites of the eyes.
This is why cannabis is widely used to treat glaucoma, a serious chronic eye disease that causes high pressure within the eyes, leading to permanent vision loss and severe pain. Pot reduces ocular pressure and staves off glaucoma’s worst complications.
It’s important to note that red eye is not caused by marijuana smoke. Instead, it’s triggered by THC and other chemicals in the pot plant known as cannabinoids.
The dose of cannabinoids delivered by the weed you smoke helps determine how red your eyes become (as do your genes, allergies, and general sensitivity to marijuana). Smoking a bong-load of low-grade cannabis one day may have no effect while a few puffs of high-grade pot the next could leave you scrambling for Visine.
So how to avoid dreaded red eyes? Here are a few tips.
First, pick strains that deliver less THC. Many strains are high in CBD and other medically beneficial cannabinoids but low in THC. This means you won’t get as high, but if you’re more concerned with medication than recreation, this is a good way to keep your eyes white.
Always have eye drops handy. The best brands are specially formulated to treat redness. And drink lots of water. Red eyes often come with dryness, and extra hydration makes that less likely.
Finally, don’t sweat your bloodshot eyes too much. The redness doesn’t pose a threat to your health or safety, unless maybe it tips off the narcs and gets you arrested on pot charges. Otherwise, it’s just another minor inconvenience, hardly enough for any serious stoner to give up the habit.
What do you think: Are red eyes a serious problem for you? Do you even care if people see you with bloodshot eyes?