That infamous, red-eye stare. Some of you may know that certain cannabis products can turn your eyes into a bloodshot mess if consumed in excess. Who wants that? So if you’re stepping into the world of CBD, you may wonder: does CBD make your eyes red?
There’s quite a bit at play behind the scenes regarding the redness you experience after smoking cannabis. Here we will explore what exactly is to blame for bloodshot eyes and what you can do to remedy it!
Why Do Our Eyes Get Red?
Your eyes may appear red when the blood vessels between the sclera (the white part of the eye) and the overlying conjunctiva (the transparent, thin membrane behind the eyelid) become dilated. Many factors can cause these tiny blood vessels to become irritated or swollen.
The most common reasons for red eyes are allergies, infections, and eye fatigue. Wearing contacts for an extensive amount of time is yet another common reason for red eyes, as contacts can cause your eyes to become strained and dry. Red eyes can also be caused by smoking and drinking and more severe eye diseases, like glaucoma. Bloodshot eyes can often result from prolonged use of contacts, naturally dry eyes, digital eye strain, or lack of sleep.
Digital Eye Strain
On average, people spend about seven hours a day in front of their screens, leading to eye strain, headaches, and blurry vision. To prevent eye strain, take care to view your computer from a safe distance or apply a blue light filter to your screen to reduce the damage to your eyes. Digital eye strain is also referred to as “computer vision syndrome.”
If you wear contacts, make sure to clean and store them properly and not reuse disposable lenses. Washing your hands is always advisable, especially if you think you’ll be touching the area around your eye.
Anyone who suffers from allergies will tell you they are dreadful. Allergies result from an overreactive immune response that causes swollen, itchy, watery eyes. Airborne allergens like pollen and dust can all make your eyes red, especially in the springtime when flowering plants are in bloom.
Naturally Dry Eyes
In some cases, dry eyes are caused by decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation. This can happen for many reasons; here are some of the most common:
- Hormone changes
- Autoimmune disease
- Inflamed eyelid glands
- Allergic eye disease
Lack of Sleep (Eye Fatigue)
Not getting enough sleep can decrease the amount of oxygen that is available for the eyes. This lack of oxygen can cause blood vessels to dilate and become bloodshot. This is also known as plain old “eye fatigue” — if you don’t shut your eyes for a while, they get tired!
More commonly known as “pink eye,” this highly contagious condition generally appears in three forms: allergic, bacterial, and viral. You can treat the bacterial form of conjunctivitis with prescription antibiotics. Both the viral and allergic forms of conjunctivitis can be soothed with a cool compress and eyedrops. Symptoms will generally clear in around two weeks.
Smoking & Drinking
Drinking too much alcohol and smoking lots of marijuana or tobacco can also lead to red eyes. Excessive drinking causes your blood vessels to swell, which can make your eyes look red. Try carrying around eye drops to reduce the redness, which can constrict the blood vessels and get rid of your bloodshot eyes.
Does CBD Make Your Eyes Red?
Can CBD make your eyes red too? The short answer here is: No, no, it can’t. As mentioned above, eye redness is caused by dilated (widened) blood vessels in the eye. CBD does not cause an inflammatory reaction, in your eye or otherwise. In fact, it may combat swelling!
In short, CBD does not cause the blood vessels in your eyes to dilate, so it doesn’t play a hand in your eyes’ redness. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the body but doesn’t connect with any cannabinoid receptors directly.
Because CBD doesn’t connect to receptors directly, it doesn’t induce many of the negative side effects of THC (like red eyes). Instead, this natural compound only interacts with receptor-independent pathways, which produces a wide range of balancing, soothing benefits like improved mood, easier digestion, and reduced swelling.
Does CBD Make Your Eyes Dry?
Nope! Dry eyes are not a side effect of CBD, so you can put those eye drops away. In most cases, red eyes are accompanied by dryness. Since CBD does not typically make your eyes red, it won’t make your eyes dry, either.
Why Does Smoking Marijuana Make Your Eyes Red?
In short, the THC in marijuana is to blame for your red eyes. When THC enters the body, it lowers your blood pressure. In reaction to this lower blood pressure, blood vessels dilate and widen beyond their natural state, including the tiny blood vessels that live behind our eyes.
When the vessels widen, blood flow to the eyes increases substantially. This blood flow helps lower built-up pressure and tends to result in the glossy, red, irritated-looking eyes that have become so stereotypical of cannabis users. Fun fact: This relieving of pressure is also the reason why high-THC cannabis is often used to treat glaucoma!
Unlike marijuana, legal hemp (the plant CBD comes from), does not contain high levels of THC. Again, when it comes to red eyes, THC seems to be the sole culprit. People who smoke CBD flower or take other legal cannabidiol products don’t ingest large amounts of THC.
Short-Term Treatments for Red Eyes
While eye redness due to smoking doesn’t need to be cause for concern, no one can’t deny that bloodshot eyes can be irritating (and unsightly!). You don’t have to walk around looking like you’ve fallen victim to a pepper spray attack, though. Here are some remedies for bloodshot eyes:
There are eye drops explicitly designed to reduce eye redness. They contain ingredients called “vasoconstrictors,” which shrink the blood vessels and help clear the redness. It is essential to keep in mind that, because your blood vessels may become accustomed to the drops causing them to constrict, frequent use of these eye drops can lead to needing them more regularly to keep red-eye from coming back.
Low THC Hemp Products
Another way to avoid bloodshot eyes is to consume CBD products. Since CBD contains little to no THC, it will provide all of the benefits of marijuana without leaving you high or making your eyes red.
Along with avoiding red eyes, this also means steering clear of some of the other side effects of THC. CBD hemp flower may help consumers sleep better, allowing for a better night’s sleep to reduce eye redness naturally.
Take Out Your Contacts
If you happen to wear contacts, you might consider giving your eyes some rest, removing them as often as you can while still operating comfortably. Be sure to clean them regularly and wash your hands before putting them in. As we mentioned before, avoid reusing disposable lenses! They are thin and don’t hold moisture well, and prolonged use can cause dry eyes and irritation.
It would be quite advisable for you to remember to regularly wash your face (including eyelids) with cold water and to stay appropriately hydrated.
Applying a cool, wet washcloth to your face for 10-30 minutes can reduce redness and swelling in your eyes. For extra relief, try putting some cucumber slices over your eyes! They contain compounds that can further ease inflammation. Follow this treatment with a gentle moisturizer (not directly around your eye area), and voila! Say hello to soothed eyes.
Long-Term Solutions for Red Eyes
If you regularly experience bloodshot, irritated eyes, you may need to consider thinking beyond quick fixes. There are a few general lifestyle changes that may help relieve your symptoms. If the problem persists, you should also talk to your doctor.
Change your Diet
Dehydration can cause your eyes to appear red and bloodshot. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that men drink at least 13 cups (around 101 ounces) and that women drink at least 9 cups (about 74 ounces) of water per day to maintain a proper fluid balance.
Research has shown that eating an excessive amount of inflammatory foods may also cause eye redness. Fast foods, dairy products, and processed foods can all cause inflammation when consumed in excess.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Many environmental factors could potentially be at play when your eyes appear bloodshot. If you are constantly surrounded by airborne allergens, such as smoke or pollen, it may be at the root of the problem. Purchasing an air purifier for your home may reduce some of these irritants. Among the most common airborne are:
- Pet dander
- Air pollution
- Airborne fumes
Other environmental causes of red eyes include overexposure to sunlight and dry air. You can fight these wear sunglasses outdoors and keeping the air in your house moist with a humidifier.
Final Thoughts – Does CBD Make Your Eyes Red?
There you have it! CBD does not make your eyes red. Research has shown that the majority of the red-eye effects people experience are caused by the presence of THC. Since CBD contains little to no THC, it does not irritate your eyes.
If you happen to be an unlucky, chronic red-eye sufferer, don’t worry! There are solutions out there for you. From medicated eye drops to sunglasses and cool compresses, you can treat your inflamed eyes easily. Of course, it’s always wise to visit your doctor to rule out any severe illnesses first.