Published: December 5th, 2016
Categories: Cannabis Info
Despite the ongoing efforts by researchers across the planet to come up with negatives associated with smoking 'the herb', the only definitive one so far seems to be “getting red eyes”. Even this side effect is not an inevitable – and certainly not only caused by smoking pot.
There is also very little understanding of why pot smokers actually get red eyes (not everyone does). Some blame it on the medical effects of THC – and others on the smoke from joints themselves. Regardless of what the condition is actually caused by, it is a temporary state of affairs and disappears several hours after lighting up.
The other good news? There are quite a few reasons to explain the condition away if anyone notices your bloodshot eyes (although try to hide the munchies or giggles when providing more creative excuses), not to mention easily accessible remedies.
“Red eye” is actually a catch-all semi-medical phrase that is used to describe, literally, why the white areas around the iris (the coloured part of the eye) sometimes appear “red”. There are lots of readily usable (and believable) excuses you can give persistent inquirers to explain why the majority of your eyes appear “bloodshot”.
Pink eye: Pink Eye is actually a form of conjunctivitis (eye infection). Sufferers not only appear to have very red eyes, but can also develop discharge. If observers really seem concerned about your overall state of health, just tell them that “the ‘crusties are a pain, but they will pass”. Nobody will get too close after that. It is transmittable, Typhoid Mary and usually less embarrassing than admitting to herpes (which also causes the same kind of condition).
Blepharitis: If you use this excuse, you better know what it is. It is another form of eye infection that also causes your eyelids to puff up and is caused when the oil glands at the base of the eyelashes become clogged. See also Episcleritis, an inflammation of the membrane covering the white part of the eye, and if feeling really multisyllabic, go for subjunctival haemorrhage – broken blood vessels in the eye. Orbital cellulitis (another kind of eye infection) sounds too funny or strange to say with a straight face and might cause a mandatory visit to the ophthalmologist, not to mention a closer inspection from the interrogator rather than concerned distance.
Allergies: Suggest the ones that seem most seasonally or environmentally appropriate (hay fever or animal allergies are usually not questioned too closely) and always a reliable standby if your significant other uses excessive amounts of smelly healthcare products. Also a safe alternative if more severe health excuses might cause concerned action by the questioner.
Chlorine: Exposure to chlorine used in swimming pools also causes the same kind of side effect as toking up. Use this one in summer months only unless you have ready access to indoor swimming year round.
When all else fails, just inform the nosey parkers that you were up all last night studying, working, or winning the all-time champion round of your favourite X-Box game challenge.
Depending on the extent of the redness (and individual sensitivity), the following remedies all work to reduce eye redness caused by smoking ganja.
Water: Splash cold water on your eyes or soak a towel and rest it over your eyelids for a few minutes. Adding cucumbers, rose petals or teabags to your eyewash solution can all help to reduce redness and puffiness due to the natural qualities found in all of them.
Milk: Washing your eyes out with milk can also help reduce eye redness. Mix with honey, soak a cotton ball and then rub it over your eyes for about 15 minutes.
Vegetable juice: This option is used internally (i.e. drink it rather than use it as an eye wash). If this option violates an anti-vegetable diet, just drink lots of water.
Chilled spoons: Stick a few teaspoons in the freezer to get them good and cold. Place the rounded part on your (closed) eyes for a few minutes until they warm up and then replace them. It looks a little strange however, so better try this one in private. An alternative is placing chilled cucumber slices over your (closed) eyelids.
Traditional eye-drops: Commercially available eye washes and drops all work to reduce eye redness.
Shower: Stand under a cold shower for 15 minutes, facing the shower nozzle.
Wear sun glasses: When all else fails, just cover up the evidence. Even at night.
While little real research has been conducted on the subject, there is anecdotal evidence that the real reason pot smokers get red eyes is because of the smoke created by joints. If your eyes light up like traffic lights after every toke, consider the following options.
Stay hydrated: Drink lots of water. Dehydration is a major source of eye redness, beyond THC ingestion or even smoke.
Diet: Eat healthy and take your vitamins. Fatty acids found in fish, nuts and leafy vegetables all decrease the likelihood of bloodshot eyes in general.
Vaping: Vaping your bud is one way to remove one eye irritant altogether – the smoke.
Edibles: Most of these can be home-made after you master the art of making cannabutter. Just remember that when eating your bud, the real impact of the high is delayed, often by several hours. Be careful and go slow.