Uncontrollable giggling, relentless munchies, and sluggish speech— just a few indications that someone might have smoked a doobie. However, these symptoms are relatively easy to conceal or pass off as something else.
But if there’s one thing that betrays you, it’s your eyes. Specifically, glossy, droopy, and bloodshot eyes— otherwise known as stoned eyes— are the telltale sign that someone is high as a kite.ingesting edibles, or consuming marijuana in any way (yes, that includes medical marijuana use).
So, what’s the deal with high eyes? Should you be worried? Most importantly, how do you get rid of them quickly? Let’s find out.
Are Red Eyes Normal After Smoking Cannabis?
If you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and see red or bloodshot eyes staring back at you, don’t freak out. That just means the cannabis did its job.
Apart from its intended effects, smoking marijuana engenders some very peculiar side effects on your mind and body. Among these are:
- Increase in heart rate
- Cottonmouth or dry mouth
- Increase in appetite (or “munchies”)
- Red, droopy, and glassy eyes
It’s not necessary that weed makes your eyes red every time you smoke, and the intensity of redness also differs each time you smoke.
At the same time, your eyelids will also likely droop, and your eyes might have more gloss than usual. This triad of side effects of marijuana gives rise to “stoned eyes.”
But what brings about these symptoms?
Does the Smoke Make Your Eyes Red?
Some novice smokers would assume that the smoke from smoking cannabis cigarettes irritates their eyes and makes them red and watery. But if that were the case, you would:
- Feel irritation in your eyes and be unable to open them, and;
- Not get eye redness even when you don’t smoke weed but instead, say, take edibles.
But alas, your eyes don’t get irritated, and edibles actually turn your eyes more red than smoking does.
Plus, some weed smokers are paranoid (shocker) that they might be allergic to cannabis. But while cannabis allergies are possible, they’re hardly probable. Moreover, an allergic reaction to cannabis doesn’t give you red eyes but itchy and watery eyes, along with a host of other symptoms.
So, weirdly enough, the smoke itself doesn’t make your eyes red, nor do allergies. So what does?
Why Does Cannabis Consumption Give You Bloodshot Eyes?
The thing that makes your eyes red is the same thing that makes your heart beat a million times a minute, gives you euphoria, makes you a little spacey, and triggers a herculean appetite.
One word: Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC for less of a mouthful).
The Role of THC
Let’s go back a few steps and understand the biochemistry behind a high. Cannabis contains hundreds of different chemicals, over a hundred of which are cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Of these two, THC is mainly responsible for inducing the psychoactive effects people associate with weed. They bind to the cannabinoid receptors present throughout our body’s endocannabinoid system, including in the eyes.
One of the many common effects that come about when THC binds to these receptors is the dilation of the blood vessels. As a result, your eyes are now receiving more blood flow than usual, and the dilated capillaries offset hypertension and lower blood pressure. Side note: because it reduces intraocular pressure, medical marijuana use is known to aid the treatment of glaucoma patients.
It follows that if you have high blood pressure normally, your blood vessels and capillaries won’t dilate enough to make your eyes red. Conversely, if you have lower blood pressure while sober, then your eyes will put the Terminator to shame. Other factors also come into play, such as age, sex, genetics, severe substance use, and tolerance levels.
Back to the point: THC makes ocular capillaries dilate, hence directing more blood toward your eyes at any given time. Since these capillaries are pretty translucent, your sclera (the white part of an eyeball) becomes red. That’s how you end up with red eyes.
Why Does Weed Make Your Eyes Glassy and Droopy?
As if red eyes weren’t enough, smoking weed also makes your eyes more glassy and your eyelids more droopy.
Yet another way that THC works and reacts with your body is by relaxing the muscles, and your eyes have a few very important ones. For one, they help you keep your eyelids open. Secondly, they let you blink every now and then to cleanse and moisten your eyes.
But when you smoke weed, your eye muscles start to slacken. They stoop down to their natural position, thus giving you droopy eyes.
At the same time, they also start skipping a blink or two, keeping your eyes open for longer. Since your eyes aren’t getting a wipe-down to clear irritants, they start producing more water to keep the irritants out.
How Do You Get Rid of Red Eyes?
The combination of glassy, droopy, and red eyes are telltale signs that mary jane is in full effect. Now, what do you do to get rid of high eyes?
First, here’s what not to do:
- Don’t put ice directly onto your eyes.
- Washing your eyes with cold water won’t get you anywhere since the problem runs deeper.
- Some people say you should stay hydrated while smoking weed. Once again, though, the problem isn’t dehydration. Do drink water to keep your throat moist after all the smoking, but don’t expect it to reduce eye redness.
Instead, here are a few steps you can take to effectively reduce eye redness:
- Use over-the-counter eye drops containing tetryzoline/ tetrahydrozoline, such as the ones used for eye allergy treatment. These eye drops treat eye allergies by restricting dilated capillaries, releasing intraocular pressure, and offsetting increased blood flow. Hence, they do wonders for stoned eyes.
- Smoke a low THC strain to control how much your ocular capillaries dilate.
- Use an ice pack for your eyes if they become too red and start burning.
- Consumption of caffeine, chocolate, licorice, and sodium can also reduce red eyes.
Last Thoughts About High Eyes
Your eyes turning red is arguably the most annoying side effect of marijuana. If you were wondering “why does weed make your eyes red,” now you know: it’s because of the way the THC dilates your ocular capillaries and lowers your blood pressure. This leads to an increased blood flow to the eyes.
It’s a normal thing that differs from person to person.
While there are a few options, the best way to alleviate red eyes is by using over-the-counter eye drops. A few squirts of this magical potion, and none will be the wiser.