Other than a goofy smile, the only thing that makes a person noticeably high is their red eyes.
It’s one of the most common physical symptoms of getting high, but how does it happen? It’s a little peculiar that red eyes are something experienced by almost everyone who smokes.
Interestingly, if you think getting red eyes is a bad thing, you’re wrong. The red-eye phenomenon has been linked to why cannabis is recommended to patients with glaucoma.
So what exactly causes you to come out of a smoke session with it written in your eyes? And is it bad for you? Let’s find out.
Photo by MARLEN STAHLHUTH
Some suggest that it could be an allergy to the smoke of cannabis that causes red eyes. According to studies, some people out there actually are allergic to cannabis.
Even those who smoke tobacco experience red eyes sometimes. So, this could naturally suggest that the eyes are simply too sensitive to have smoke floating around them.
Even though this idea isn’t so far out, it still doesn’t explain why we get red eyes even if we eat weed or vaporize it.
Even those stoners who prefer to ingest their cannabis through tinctures, oils, or edibles experience the red-eye phenomenon. So steering clear of smoking doesn’t mean you can run away from it.
The most likely explanation for what causes red eyes in cannabis users is the famous main ingredient itself – THC.
This prominent psychoactive cannabinoid decreases blood pressure, causing a dilation of blood vessels and capillaries.
For the eyes, in particular, this causes a dilation of the ocular capillaries, encouraging blood flow through the eyes and effectively making them red.
It is this function of THC that makes it a suitable medicine for glaucoma patients. Even though it doesn’t completely cure their condition, it helps them live with symptoms without the threat of losing their sight.
The pressure that builds as a result of glaucoma is relieved through cannabis use, and it is this very property of cannabis that causes one to have red eyes.
Photo by MOUTHWASH STUDIOS
When you eat an edible, it takes longer for the THC to reach your brain than when you smoke or vape.
This means your eyes won’t turn red as quickly, even if you’ve eaten a substantial amount of the product. But they will, eventually.
When you smoke or vape cannabis, THC goes into your lungs, quickly passes through the membranes lining your lungs, and moves directly to the bloodstream.
With edibles, whatever delicacy you choose to eat, they go through several stages before reaching your bloodstream.
First, the THC needs to reach the stomach for us to digest it. Once your THC edible has been absorbed into your stomach, it can be challenging to understand what’s happening next.
This is because the liver starts processing the incoming THC before sending it to your small intestine and the rest of your body.
Your liver metabolizes THC and converts it to 11 hydroxy THC, a metabolite that can reach the brain quickly. 11-hydroxy-THC makes you feel high faster and longer than regular THC.
Having red eyes isn’t actually a bad sign. It’s a sign that cannabis is doing one of the medicinal things it’s meant to do.
However, there is still a stigma attached to having red eyes because it is almost always associated with cannabis use. So how do you avoid telling the whole world you just smoked a joint through your red eyes?
In general, if you haven’t completely smoked yourself into oblivion (in which case you probably don’t feel like going out anyway), then red eyes will only last a couple of hours.
You could always just wait. But if that’s not your vibe, opt for eye drops at your local pharmacy and drugstore.
Clear Eyes are definitely a solid addition to your smoking kit, just in case you need to lock eyes with non-smokers. You could also look towards different foods that constrict the blood vessels, such as caffeine and chocolate.
How do you deal with having red eyes? Hit us up on Instagram and let us know!