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How to Alleviate Red Eyes From Smoking Cannabis

Person with red, irritated eyes

Are you looking forward to a cannabis session, but you are worried that while it may be delightful, it will leave your eyes red – inadvertently giving away what you have been up to? There are some measures you can take to indulge in cannabis and not have to worry about incriminating red eyes.

This article will discuss why most people’s eyes turn red when they smoke cannabis, how to prevent it, and what to do to get rid of it.

Why Do Most People’s Eyes Become Red from Smoking Cannabis?

The reddening of eyes after consuming or smoking cannabis can be attributed to the active compounds, particularly delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol — popularly referred to as THC.

When THC enters your body, it has various physiological effects that could redden your eyes. First, it causes a temporary drop in your blood pressure and increases your heart rate. 

As a result, your blood vessels dilate, causing increased blood flow to your eyes. This increases blood flow to the capillaries in the eye whites, causing a characteristic red appearance. Furthermore, since THC reduces blood pressure, it can cause intraocular pressure in the eyes to drop.

Secondly, THC affects the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary body functions such as blood flow, heart rate, and digestion. The interaction of THC with the autonomic nervous system can therefore result in the dilation of the blood vessels and, consequently, reddening of the eyes.

The level of redness varies from one person to another. People with high blood pressure are less likely to experience red-eye syndrome after smoking cannabis. This is because it is unlikely that the THC will lower their blood pressure significantly to cause dilation of the blood vessels in the eyes. On the other hand, people with low blood pressure may experience more obvious reddening.

Some people do not get red-eye syndrome after smoking cannabis. Side effects vary from person to person, depending on your age, genetics, overall health, and tolerance levels.

Note that the reddening of the eyes from smoking cannabis is generally harmless and goes away on its own after a few hours as the THC level in the blood reduces. For clarification purposes, the reddening of the eyes is not caused by cannabis smoke.  

How to Avoid Red Eyes When Smoking Cannabis

Below are tips to avoid or minimize red eyes when smoking cannabis:

  • Hydrate adequately. Drink lots of water before, during, and after your cannabis sessions. The water helps to maintain better blood vessel regulation.
  • Consume lower THC cannabis strains. High-THC cannabis strains can lead to more pronounced red eyes.
  • Moderate your THC consumption. Start with lower doses or smaller amounts and increase gradually as need be.
  • Opt for other methods of cannabis consumption. Smoking cannabis is more likely to cause reddening of the eyes than vaporizing or consuming edibles.
  • Keep the room temperatures cool. Heat can exacerbate blood vessel dilation worsening the reddening of the eyes. Also, avoid hot showers and baths.
  • Smoke in a well-ventilated area. Good airflow and proper ventilation prevent the eyes from becoming dry, making them prone to reddening.
  • Maintain good eye health. Poor eye health can lead to severe reddening of the eyes from smoking cannabis. Therefore, go for regular eye check-ups, eat nutritious foods, and stay hydrated. If you suffer from allergies or other eye conditions, ensure they are properly managed. Also, practice good eye hygiene.

How to Alleviate Eye Redness Due to Smoking Cannabis

There are different ways you can alleviate the redness of the eyes from smoking cannabis, including:

  • Give it time. The reddening of the eyes fades away over time on its own as the effects of cannabis wear off. It takes 2-6 hours or more, depending on the extent of the redness, the potency of the cannabis consumed, your metabolism, and overall health. While waiting it out, rest your eyes and avoid prolonged use of screens. Blinking regularly and intentionally also helps.


  • Apply lubricating eye drops. They help to alleviate dryness in the cornea, which can contribute to dryness and irritation, worsening the reddening of the eyes. You only need to apply 1-2 drops on each eye as per the instructions provided on the product packaging. It is best to use preservative-free eyedrops to avoid irritating the eyes.


  • Apply allergy eye drops. Allergy drops that contain antihistamines or vasoconstrictors can constrict blood vessels in the eyes, reducing redness. However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before using them, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition or are taking other medications.


  • Apply clear eye drops. These are over-the-counter eye drops formulated to temporarily reduce eye redness. However, use them cautiously and sparingly. They can have a rebound effect, whereby the redness worsens after the initial relief.


  • Apply cold presses. Wet a clean cloth or take an eye mask and put it in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes. Take it from the refrigerator, close your eyes, and apply gentle cold presses over your closed eyelids for about 10 minutes. The cold temperature helps the dilated blood capillaries in the eye white to constrict, reducing redness. A word of caution – do not place ice directly over your eyes.


You can enjoy a cannabis session without worrying about eye redness. The tips above can help prevent red eyes. However, the efficacy of the methods varies from person to person. While some people do not get red eyes at all from smoking cannabis, for others, it is inevitable.

Don’t worry if you are in the latter group; red-eye syndrome is not a health concern. You can wait it out for a few hours to clear on its own or try some of the methods discussed above to alleviate it faster.

That said, should the redness persist, or you experience accompanying symptoms such as discomfort, vision changes, or irritation, consult an eye doctor to rule out underlying conditions.

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