What causes bloodshot eyes when you’re high?

May 1, 2023

One of the most obvious signs that someone has just enjoyed some good bud is a classic case of bloodshot eyes. While not everyone will experience this every time they smoke weed or eat edibles, we have all most likely experienced it more than once. It’s not something that will always happen and the effects will vary from person to person and strain to strain. While certain people don’t experience this as much due to their physiology, there are a few other reasons this happens.

What causes bloodshot eyes after smoking or consuming edibles?

When we consume THC, our blood pressure and heart rate increase. THC lowers your blood pressure, which in turn causes the blood vessels and capillaries to dilate. The red eyes you get after smoking are caused by the same thing in cannabis that helps with glaucoma. If someone already has high blood pressure, THC won’t decrease it enough to cause very red eyes. Someone with low blood pressure might notice that their eyes get exceptionally red after smoking.

THC is the most common cannabinoid in cannabis and is responsible for the intoxicating feeling we get after smoking. When we smoke, cannabinoids bind to our cannabinoid receptors. This causes our ocular capillaries to dilate, which reduces pressure (intraocular pressure) and increases blood flow. This increased blood flow is what causes the appearance of bloodshot eyes. According to Dr. Melanie Bone, a board-certified OB-GYN who practices in West Palm Beach, Florida, “It’s cannabis’ ability to reduce intraocular pressure in the eyes that makes it a potentially viable treatment for glaucoma, a group of eye disorders that causes damage to the optic nerves which can eventually lead to blindness. It also happens to explain why your eyes become bloodshot after smoking cannabis.”

The concentration of the redness of the eyes is mostly caused by the strength of the weed you are smoking. A higher THC % in your bud can mean much redder, glassier eyes after your session. Bloodshot eyes are almost unavoidable when consuming good-quality cannabis. While it can be a dead giveaway that you just smoked, be aware there is no medical reason to be concerned about having bloodshot eyes after consuming cannabis.

How to get rid of red eyes

  1. Hydrating eye drops. Most stoners have some eye drops on hand somewhere. A few drops in each eye and within minutes, your eyes look completely back to normal! Look for a brand that is formulated specifically for allergy relief or redness removal and contains tetrahydrozoline (also known as tetryzoline).
  2. Keep hydrated. Keeping hydrated helps with not only dry mouth, but can also help aid in keeping your eyes hydrated as well!
  3. Use a cold compress. If you can, wet a cloth with cold water or use a cold compress and lay it on your eyes for 5-10 minutes. The cold will help increase blood flow and decrease any discomfort.
  4. Eat something. Normally, our brains regulate our hunger. When we consume THC, our blood sugar drops and tricks us into thinking we are hungry. Eating not only kick starts your metabolism, but certain foods can help reduce red eye. Snacks that are rich in omega-3s like seeds, nuts, and yogurt can help reduce inflammation. A little bit of a salty snack will also help constrict blood vessels. What stoner DOESN’T have some chips or some other savory food around?!
  5. Have some caffeine. Caffeine narrows blood vessels, so a little bit can help reduce the appearance of red eyes but doing just that. Enjoy a small cup of coffee or some dark chocolate to speed up the process.
  6. Throw on the shades. While it can look a little weird if it’s not during a sunny afternoon, throwing your sunglasses on are a great way to disguise the ever-obvious stoned eyes. Use your discretion as to if this will cause more attention than not.
  7. Let it run its course. Seems obvious, but sometimes you just have to let it pass. Again, it’s not anything detrimental to your health, so no need to stress. It’s just can be a little embarrassing when it’s an obvious sign that you are high and in a situation, you may not want everyone to know.

While eye drops are going to be your quickest and most useful tool when trying to get rid of red eyes, these other tips can help if you don’t have access to drops. Keep in mind this is a passing side effect and has no harmful effect on your health. If anything, it’s just a little embarrassing knowing that everyone knows what you just did. Don’t let it kill your buzz, though. It happens to the best of us. Try some of our above tips to help speed up the process and get those eyes back to normal.

Must be 21+. Please consume responsibly.