Glassy, glazed, bloodshot eyes – the most obvious sign anywhere in the world that someone has just gotten high. Red eyes are a harmless and common side effect of smoking cannabis, but they can be annoying.
Why you get red eyes when you smoke cannabis
Simply put, THC, the molecule in marijuana that causes the high, also causes blood vessels in the eye to dilate and become more noticeable. The endocannabinoid system, which is present in every organ in the body, has CB1 receptors in several areas of the eye, including the retina. It is these CB1 receptors that THC interacts with to cause many of the most well known effects.
But the reason your eyes get red when you smoke is because the THC in cannabis also affects your cardiovascular system. The plant can dilate your blood vessels, increasing blood flow, which can lead to red eyes. THC can also increase pupil size, and reduce blood pressure and intraocular pressure (IOP), which is what has given cannabis the notoriety as a treatment of high eye pressure aka glaucoma.
One important thing to note is that while THC causes vasodilation and reduces IOP, CBD can actually do the opposite, so glaucoma patients should exercise caution when consuming CBD. Be sure to disclose your cannabis use to your doctor, including your eye doctor.
The red eyes are temporary, and should fade after an hour or two. It is this short-lived effect that makes some THC a mediocre treatment for glaucoma. But if you don’t have a couple hours and need to erase evidence of smoking immediately, then certain eye drops can help.
What eye drops do for red eyes
You can’t just grab any eye drop brand off the shelf and expect it to fix your post-smoking eyes. You need a brand that is formulated to treat red eyes because these contain vasoconstrictors, an ingredient that constricts the vessels that the THC dilated, returning the whites of the eyes to normal.
Luckily it is the 21st century, and cannabis consumers have an abundance of options available with a few clicks on the keyboard. There is no single brand that can be qualified as “the best eye drops for red eyes” because everyone’s body is different, and what works for someone else may not work for you. Moreover, some may contain ingredients that just don’t sit well with you, leading to burning, stinging, cooling, or tingling.
It’s important to note that redness reducing eye drops shouldn’t be used on a daily basis, as your eyes can become sensitive to the drops, become dependent on them, or they may lose effectiveness over time. Becoming dependent on eye drops for red eyes can lead to worsening red eyes, even while using the drops. If you need daily eye drops because weed affects your eyes, it is recommended to avoid medicated drops and to opt for lubricating eye drops instead.
Best eye drops for weed smokers
- Price: $5.30
- Active ingredient: Naphazoline hydrochloride, Polysorbate 80
- Purpose: redness reliever
Like dime bags and OG kush, Rohtos are a staple of stoner culture. Known for producing a cooling or tingling sensation thanks to the menthol in the formula, Rohtos have been hiding the red eyes of cannabis lovers for years. Just one or two drops per eye can deliver fast-acting redness relief that lasts for 8 hours, so you can go about your day knowing you don’t have “high eyes”.
- Reviews (2)
- “Marijuana users, stoners, they work :)”
- “Awesome product and result. Very good product. Instant result within 2 minutes and long lasting up to 10hrs Really effective and highly recommended.”
- Price: $7.94
- Active ingredient: Tetrahydrozoline
- Purpose: relieve redness
For the best deal on eye drops for weed smokers, you can’t beat a 3-pack of drops for under $10. Equate is a generic brand carried at Walmart and other convenience stores, but what it lacks in packaging and marketing presence it makes up for with an affordable price tag and dependable results.
- Reviews (2)
- “Perfect for my eyes. A lot of eye drops burn to much but this one doesn’t and works great for my dry eyes.”
- “Excellent value for the product. I love having multiple bottles around – in my vanity, cosmetic bag, medicine cabinet, etc. Haven’t seen a better deal around.”
- Price: $6
- Active ingredient: Tetrahydrozoline, polyethylene glycol 400
- Main purpose: hydration and irritation relief
Visine is to eye drops what Kleenex is to tissues and Xerox is to faxing (throwback). The company has been making eye drops for over 60 years so it’s not a stretch to say they’ve hidden the red eyes of generations of smokers. These drops work in just 30 seconds to deliver hydration and irritation relief so your eyes won’t give you away
- Reviews (2)
- “Nothing “gets the red out” like this version of Visine. I have allergies that cause my eyes to itch and burn and get red. Sneezing fits in the morning, sometimes over 30 in a row, cause my eyes to water and turn red like I’ve been partying for days! Can’t go to work like that. When my eyes are really irritated, the drops burn a bit initially, but that simply means it’s working; and then it is soothing. Nothing gets the red out better!”
- “Visine is still the best eye drops on the market. I’ve been using Visine for over 50 years and I will never use anything else.” Lily
- Price: $20
- Active ingredient: brimonidine
- Purpose: reduce redness
Lumify has somewhat of a cult following in the beauty world, but its claim to fame for turning dull eyes sparkling white makes it perfect for post-smoking session relief. Made by eye care brand Bauch and Lomb, Lumify uses a different ingredient to reduce redness than other brands, brimonidine. It’s the only over-the-counter eye drop to contain brimonidine, which is also used as a glaucoma medication. Lumify has a slightly higher price tag than the other drops on this list, but you get the results you pay for.
- Reviews (2)
- “They really work! I was skeptical, but they really do whiten your eyes. They don’t burn, and they work quick.”
- “Best eye drops ever. These eye drops are amazing and the best ones ever. They work extremely fast and my eyes whites are as white as ever. I have severe allergies, eyes white. I use accutane, eyes white. Hungover? Eyes white…You will not be disappointed.”
- Price: $20
- Active ingredients: Glycerin, Naphazoline
- Purpose: redness relief
Clear Eyes has a straightforward name that tells you exactly what their product delivers – clear eyes, free from redness, dryness, or irritation. One or two drops can provide up to 12 hours of redness relief and with a 12-pack of travel-size bottles, you can leave a bottle in your bathroom, car, bedroom, purse, or anywhere you may be lighting up.
- Reviews (2)
- “Clears bloodshot real fast. One quick little drop and your eyes are back to normal. I love this brand and will forever keep using it for those long… longggg days????”
- “Great deal! Works well, and the price was right!”
It’s never been easier to cover any evidence of smoking weed. There are numerous options available to consumers and finding an eye drop that is effective and doesn’t irritate your eyes can take a bit of trial and error. Finding the best eye drops for red eyes is just a few clicks away for any plant lover, so you can keep lighting up and only wear your sunglasses outside.
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