Marijuana Red Eye Phenomenon

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The most obvious sign of smoking Cannabis is the “red eye phenomenon”. This is one of the most common ‘symptoms’ when using Marijuana. Many users try to eliminate this eye redness by using eyedrops to remain discreet after devouring the herb.

“You would never recognize unless you see the fire in my eyes”
– Snoop Lion (Smoke the Weed)

I don’t often quote Snoop, however, he is right saying that the only obvious ‘giveaway’ of someone being medicated on Cannabis is the ‘fire in their eyes’.

The “red-eye phenomenon” from Cannabis does not pose any health risks. In fact, this effect of marijuana has been known as one of the reasons why Cannabis is being used to treat patients with glaucoma.

And regardless of its consumption method, whether Cannabis is being rolled in a joint, vaping or ingesting edibles, it will often cause a degree of visible redness in the eyes.

Regardless of consumption method, cannabis cause a degree of visible redness in the eyes

It is great to know that it doesn’t pose any health risks, however, I kept wondering what really causes this “red eye phenomenon”?

Why the Red Eyes and What’s Causing it?

The component, that is causing red eyes after consuming Cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the cannabinoid that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. This primary compound of Cannabis also tends to decrease blood pressure, thus, resulting in the dilation of blood vessels and blood flow increase in the human body. And with its ability to lower blood pressure, it has a direct effect on the arteries of our eyeballs, causing it to expand. Of which, in this condition, it allows a higher level of blood to flow through the veins, making the veins more visible.

Does everyone get red eyes from marijuana?

red eye phenomenon

Newbies and casual users are more prone to the “red-eye phenomenon”. In some instances, when users build tolerance through prolonged consumption of Cannabis, they develop resistance to having bloodshot eyes compared to those who do does not use weed frequently.

Some people are also irritated to smoke. One of the reasons related to the “red-eye phenomenon” is simply an irritation to smoke. Some people has to deal with irritation to smoke whether they are consuming cigarettes, rolled tobacco or a marijuana joint. Any kind of smoke will cause them to have that bloodshot look.

Some people are allergic to Cannabis (I am grateful I am not), most specifically to the pollens are being produced by the marijuana plant. And people who have allergic reactions to pollen can show symptoms of eye redness. However, this allergic reaction to Cannabis, will not just be limited to having the red eyes. Most of the time it shows additional symptoms such as swelling, hives and skin irritations.

Genetic susceptibility also plays a role. Some users are predisposed to getting red eyes when smoking weed. Wherein, in some cases, Cannabis users can smoke a pile of joint and still not be affected by this “red eye phenomenon”, while others turn into having the vampire-like eyes with just a single puff.  

Different cannabis strains can cause different levels of red eye effect.

Different strains can cause different levels of red eye effect. Each Cannabis strain has a plethora of compounds. With each distinct type of cannabinoids and terpenoids interacting with each other, some strains tend to give a more visible red eye effect than others.

Can The Red Eye Effect Be Avoided?

As much as we try to eliminate the red-eye effect to remain discreet, sometimes we just can’t. This is a result of how our body reacts when we use Cannabis. However, there are ways to reduce its visibility and in some cases, if we are lucky, we can avoid it for a short period while dozing off with weed.

Chemical Eye Drops. You can try to purchase over-the-counter eye drops such as Visine Advanced Relief. This has been proven to temporarily eliminate eye redness due to cannabis use. However, do not overuse it, as it may be harmful to the eyes due to extended use.

Artificial Tears. In place of the chemical eye drop, artificial tears are much safer if you need to use an eye drop more frequently. You can try Clear Eyes Natural Tears Eye Drops.

Stay Hydrated. In a more common setting, anything that can cause dryness beyond what our tears can handle can definitely cause eye redness. So, better stay fully hydrated when consuming Cannabis, as it may reduce that bloodshot eyes.

Wear sunglasses the easiest way to conceal red eyes

Grab those Sunnies. The easiest way to conceal red eyes? Take out a pair of shades and just wear them. Or better, do not go out of your nest and just enjoy the ride.

With the “Red Eye Phenomenon” being the unattractive effect of smoking weed, it is a very small price to pay for all the health benefits we can get from consuming Cannabis. It may be undesirable and a negative upshot to some users, but it is just temporary! So, let go, doze off and enjoy the ride.

Share your thoughts on marijuana’s red-eye effect in the comments below.

Evita T.

Evita T.

She is a free spirit who is most passionate about writing. She has been working for the cannabis industry as a freelance copywriter for quite some time. She can dabble writing while traveling because she is just simply super.

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