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Sunday, April 14, 2024

How to Treat Red Eyes Fast After Smoking Weed

Red eyes after smoking cannabis? It’s more than just a pop culture marker; it’s a physiological reaction known as “red-eye syndrome.” Whether you’re a seasoned smoker or new to the herb, the red eyes phenomenon is something you’ve likely encountered. This article will delve into the causes, science, remedies, and preventive measures to help you manage red eyes after enjoying cannabis.

Causes of Red Eyes After Smoking Cannabis

Short-term Effects

The immediate redness in the eyes is often due to the dilation of blood vessels. It’s a temporary effect but can be quite noticeable. This dilation is not from irritants in the smoke or coughing but a direct result of THC’s impact on blood pressure.

Long-term Effects

Chronic red eyes might indicate underlying health issues or continuous exposure to smoke and irritants. It’s essential to differentiate between occasional red eyes and persistent symptoms that might require medical attention.

Understanding the Science Behind Red Eyes

Blood Vessels and Circulation

THC, the active compound in cannabis, lowers blood pressure, causing blood vessels to expand. As the pressure lowers in your inner eyeball, the small capillaries and blood vessels become more visible, leading to redness. This effect is known as conjunctival injection or episcleral vessel dilation.

THC and Its Effects

THC also triggers the body’s natural response to reduce intraocular pressure, leading to dilation of the eye’s blood vessels. Interestingly, studies have found THC to be a potential option for treating glaucoma, an eye condition caused by increased intraocular pressure. Research indicates that THC in cannabis can help lower the pressure up to 30%.

Why Not Everyone Experiences Red Eyes

Redness is dependent on factors such as genetics, overall health, sex, and consumption frequency. High blood pressure might not decrease enough to cause red eyes, while low blood pressure can lead to dramatic redness. Sensitivity to smoke and allergies can also influence the severity.

Quick Remedies to Red Eyes

Eye Drops

Over-the-counter eye drops containing tetryzoline can constrict dilated capillaries and eliminate redness. Be mindful of the specific formulation and frequency of use, as overuse can lead to eye toxicity and rebound dryness.


Stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine can help induce vasoconstriction, meaning a fresh cup of coffee and a few squares of dark chocolate might help to reduce red eyes. This method will also boost your alertness and take the edge off the sedating effects of heavy indica strains.

Drinking Water

Red-eye can occur due to dehydration. Drinking a glass of water or more can provide some relief for your eyes. If dehydration is not enough, as we mentioned, you can also consider using artificial tears or eye drops to help rewet your eyes.

Natural Remedies

Soaking cotton balls in rose water and placing them on the eyes for around 15 minutes is reported to assist with cases of red eyes. The same practice can also be done with green tea bags soaked in cold water. These natural remedies can soothe and revitalize red eyes using ingredients like chamomile and eyebright.

Ice Pack or Cold Compress

A cold compress can be a huge help in dealing with bloodshot eyes. Blood vessels can shrink down when cold is applied, hiding the red and waking you up. Just be careful with the application as too much icing can also cause mild frostbite on the eyelids.


If you don’t have any drops or ice packs available, sunglasses can be a temporary solution. Wearing them to outdoor gatherings and events will work in your favor.

Preventive Measures

Timing and Planning

Strains aside, the best form of prevention is timing and planning. If you plan on smoking before a meeting or workday, then be sure to do so well in advance to give your body time to recover and banish the red eyes. Being mindful of when and where you consume cannabis can make a significant difference in managing red eyes.

High-CBD Strains

Because THC is the main culprit when it comes to red eyes, opting for low-THC strains or high-CBD strains is a good way around it. High-CBD strains are great for days when you don’t want red eyes and will still help induce feelings of relaxation and serenity.

Medical Concerns and When to Seek Help

While red eyes after smoking cannabis are typically harmless and temporary, there are instances when medical attention may be necessary. Understanding the potential risks and knowing when to seek professional help is crucial for maintaining eye health and overall well-being.

Persistent Red Eyes

While occasional red eyes are common, persistent red eyes might be a sign of underlying health issues. Chronic red eyes could indicate problems such as glaucoma, dry eye syndrome, or allergies. If red eyes persist for more than a day or are accompanied by pain, vision changes, or discharge, it’s time to see a healthcare provider.

Pre-existing Health Conditions

Individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular risk factors or eye conditions should be cautious with cannabis use. The effects of THC on blood pressure and heart rate may exacerbate underlying issues. Consultation with a healthcare provider before consuming cannabis is advisable for those with known health concerns.


Red eyes after smoking cannabis are common but manageable. From understanding the role of THC to applying quick remedies and taking preventive measures, you can enjoy cannabis without the red-eyed aftermath. Like dry mouth, a little preparation can go a long way towards enjoying your high and the rest of your day.


Q1: How long does it take for red eye to go away when high?

Red eyes from marijuana use typically last a few hours to 12 hours. Drinking water and using over-the-counter eye drops can help alleviate symptoms more quickly.

Q2: What eye drops are good for smoke?

Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops or artificial tears, such as Visine, Systane, or Refresh, are effective for irritation caused by smoke.

Q3: How do you calm yourself down when too high?

If too high, find a comfortable space, breathe deeply, stay hydrated, distract yourself with calming activities, or sleep it off. Remember, the feelings will pass.

Q4: Can smoking cause permanent red eyes?

Smoking marijuana can cause red eyes, but it’s usually temporary. Chronic smoking might lead to persistent red eyes, but unlikely to cause permanent redness. Consult a healthcare provider if red eyes persist.

Q5: Can edibles also make your eyes red?

Yes, edibles can make your eyes red, just like smoking. The effect is due to the THC in marijuana and varies based on dose, sensitivity, and the specific product consumed.

Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers is an accomplished writer and cannabis enthusiast. With a Ph.D. in Botany and years of experience as a researcher, she brings a scientific perspective to her captivating articles on cannabis news, recipes, and the fascinating world of psychedelics.

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