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Weed Eyes: Causes, Symptoms and Quick Fix Methods

Dr. Adil Maqbool (MD, MRCP)

Written by: Dr. Adil Maqbool (MD, MRCP)

Updated on December 31, 2023

Weed Eyes: Causes, Symptoms and Quick Fix Methods

Smoking a joint comes with a lot of effects on the body. At times, the first of these effects is the rush of calmness and high it produces. Far from the high, weed eyes are one of the most obvious effects of weed consumption. It is often used as a telltale sign that someone has recently consumed cannabis. Weed eyes can happen no matter the strain of cannabis consumed or the method of consumption.

Although often reported, the features of weed eyes may be different across a population of weed smokers. Some people may also experience it more often than others. Cannabinoids – the active physiologically active components of cannabis – interact with the human system in a complex way. These compounds are processed by a complex network of enzymes, lipids, and receptors collectively described as the ‘Endocannabinoid System.’

Depending on the integrity and functionality of this system, the effects of cannabis on individuals may vary considerably. This also applies to the severity, frequency, and features of weed eyes in a lot of cannabis smokers.

What are Weed Eyes?

The term ‘Weed Eyes’ describes a collection of ocular changes linked with the consumption of cannabis. Blood vessels in the eyes are dilated, causing an increased supply of blood to the tiny vessels of the eyes and ultimately giving the eyes a red or pink appearance. Although the appearance may be consistence across many cases, other accompanying signs may be different. In many instances, the common signs may include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Rapid movements of the eyeballs
  • Uncontrolled movement of the ocular muscles
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Pinpoint pupils

Symptoms presented in many cases may depend on the user’s tolerance level, the amount of weed consumed, and the potency of the weed strain.

Weed eyes are not peculiar to smoking weed alone. Cannabis users who prefer edibles and other forms of cannabis may also get weed eyes. It is noteworthy to understand that although it presents like an allergy, weed eyes are completely different from an allergic response or irritation to cannabis. In itself, it happens as an offshoot of a complex interaction between delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – a psychoactive cannabinoid – and the ocular system.

Why Does Weed Make the Eyes Red?

The effects of cannabis on the body are perhaps some of the most researched topics in modern science. In an early review published by Optometry and Vision Science, researchers studied the effects of marijuana use among young adults and their self-reported quality of eyesight. Results from these studies inferred a complex reaction between the active components of cannabis and the ocular system. Later studies on this research topic suggest that cannabinoids may directly affect the vascular layout of the eye, and play important roles in retinal functioning.

Today, most of the research evidence explains how weed eyes point to THC. On consumption, the body processes cannabinoids in a series of processes that ultimately release THC into the bloodstream. THC in the blood travels through the vital organs, prominently interacting with the endocannabinoid receptors abundantly present in the brain and the eyes. In the brain, it causes the typical high linked with cannabis consumption. In the eyes, it causes a series of vascular effects.

By binding to cannabinoid receptors in the eye, THC causes a temporary decrease in ocular blood pressure and dilates the tiny, multiple blood vessels. These effects result in increased overall blood flow to the eyes, causing the typical ‘weed eyes.’ This interaction also initiates tearing in many instances. A sudden increase in ocular blood circulation and activation of the tear glands cause a reddish appearance of the eye.

How to Quickly Fix Weed High Eyes?

You might have heard about a few methods to fix weed eyes. Some of these methods may appear unconventional while others may just be simple enough. Remedies that eventually work reverse the effects of THC and normalize the size of the ocular blood vessels.
Some of these remedies include:

Cold Compress

Cold compresses are popular home remedies for inflammation. Applying a cold compress can reverse the structural changes associated with weed eyes. To make a cold compress, simply fill a bold with cold water or ice. Soak a clean dishcloth in the bowl and wait for a few minutes. Retrieve the dishcloth, wring it, and place it over your eyelids for about 5 – 10 minutes. The whole process can be repeated a few times.

A direct application of cold water over a weed eye shrinks the blood vessels and tightens the surrounding skin. By shrinking the blood vessels, blood circulation in the tiny vessels is normalized and the reddish appearance of the eyes momentarily resolves. As the surrounding skin shrinks, the puffy appearance of the eyelids also resolves.

Use Over-the-counter Eye Drops

This is perhaps the most efficient method to get your eyes back to normal. Over-the-counter eye drops are medicated and designed to resolve minor discomforts of the eyes. Brands like Visine contain agents that constrict the blood vessels of the eye and reduce inflammation of the eyes. These medicated eye drops spread over the surface of the eye quickly, causing a uniform effect on the eye.

Teabags

Applying teabags over weed eyes is an old home remedy that reportedly works. Since teabags also almost always lying around the house, you might want to start with this option. Soak a teabag in hot water for a few minutes, retrieve it, and let it cool down. Place the teabag over your eye like an eye patch for a few minutes. Repeat for about 3-5 times. The warm teabag soothes the eye, relieves the redness, and makes the eye more normal in appearance.

What other drugs will Cause Weed Eyes?

The ocular changes described in weed eyes are not peculiar to cannabis consumption. Generally, these features are triggered y drugs that alter the physiology of the eyes. Stimulants and other drugs that interact with the brain are notorious for these effects. They change the appearance of the eyes, dilate the blood vessels, and may also impair peripheral vision in many instances. With the exemption of cannabis, other substances that can cause weed eye include:

  • Cocaine
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Nicotine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Heroin
  • Ketamine
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

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Dr. Adil Maqbool (MD, MRCP)
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