Red eyes are irritating — literally. Not only do red eyes look unappealing but they feel that way, too. No matter whether they were caused by stray smoke, something you smoked, sand, screens or suds, they are generally fairly easy to fix. Most drops, as long as they target redness, should remedy the issue fast, and last for up to eight hours — which is long enough for you to escape home or elsewhere to address them again.
Why Are My Eyes Red?
Your eyes could be red for a number of reasons: Are you high? Tired? Irritated? Living near wildfires? Allergic to the air? Do you work on a computer all day? Have you been staring at your phone too much? If they're just red — not crusty, swollen or itchy, like pink eye, which is caused by bacterial exposure — then you shouldn't worry.
Redness occurs when the eyes get irritated, either by pollutants and particulate, or when your blood vessels dilate, making the blood vessels in your eyes more visible. However, redness can also occur because of weed, which contains several cannabinoids. These cannabinoids — THC, THC-A, CBD, CBN and so on and so forth — are vasodilators, or drugs that widen the blood vessels. When you smoke, your blood pressure drops, because the blood can flow through your vessels more easily.
What Causes Red Eyes?
Red eyes as a side effect of marijuana consumption happen because a large percentage of our cannabinoid receptors are above the shoulders, within the brain and eyes, specifically. Research has proven this time over time: "The main effects of Cannabis are mediated by two major exogenous cannabinoids: ∆9-tetrahydroxycannabinol and cannabidiol. They act on specific endocannabinoid receptors, especially types 1 and 2," a 2015 report published in a scientific journal called Neural Plasticity, summarized. "In ocular tissues, CB1 receptors have been localized in the ciliary body [part of the eye] of rat, bovine, and human."
The proximity of these receptors to the eye appears to heighten our ocular response to weed, which is why even one puff could trigger fire-red eyes. As for secondhand smoke or smoke from a distant wildfire, this haze breaks down the eye's defensive film, leaving it exposed to the elements. It doesn't take much — say, a stray puff of campfire smoke or a cigarette from a passing stranger — to irritate your eyes. Rubbing your eyes can cause brief redness and irritation, too, even if you remove the debris that was bothering you in the first place. Eyes are so damn delicate.
That's why you'll occasionally spot a broken blood vessel. Unless the area is ultra-dark or spreading, it's rarely cause for concern. These can occur as a result of a hard sneeze, a strong stomach bug (and a bunch of puking) or due to stress or eye strain. Drops won't fix this, but time will.