Updated on February 15, 2024
4 min read

Stoned Eyes: Why Marijuana Causes Red Eyes

Key Takeaways

What are Stoned Eyes?

"Stoned eyes" or "weed eyes" refer to eye changes that drug use cause. These transformations occur due to certain drugs, such as opioids or stimulants.

Common signs of stoned eyes include:

  • Dilated pupils (enlarged pupils)
  • Pinpoint pupils (smaller pupils)
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Watering eyes
  • Rapid, uncontrollable eye movement.

Many of these changes are typical among marijuana users. Long-term substance abuse can also increase the risk of certain eye conditions like glaucoma and vision damage.

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Why Does Weed Give You Stoned Eyes?

Stoned eyes are primarily due to how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) affects blood pressure. THC reduces blood pressure, causing tiny blood vessels called capillaries to dilate.

As these blood vessels dilate, it boosts blood flow into the eyes while reducing intraocular pressure. The increased blood flow produces redness, so you can get red eyes despite not smoking weed.

People who eat edibles can still experience red eyes. However, there are other ways marijuana can cause red eyes, including:

  • An allergic reaction
  • Irritation to cannabis
  • Smoke in the eyes

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How to Get Rid of Stoned Eyes From Cannabis

High eyes from marijuana are relatively harmless and typically go away after some time. However, you can take these steps to minimize or reduce the redness during or after smoking:

  • Fish oil supplements: Taking fish oil supplements can reduce dry eyes and redness because of fatty acids called Omega-3s
  • Marijuana with low or no THC: Using strains with low or no THC can reduce eye redness; strains with high cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) can be better alternatives for those sensitive to THC
  • Eye drops: Redness-reducing eye drops can constrict the eye’s blood vessels so they don’t appear enlarged and swollen with blood; artificial tears can be very effective for keeping your eyes moisturized
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated increases fluid intake and may help with any dryness
  • Cold compress: Cold compresses or cold water can decrease blood flow to your eyes and reduce redness

What Other Drugs Can Cause Stoned Eyes?

Aside from marijuana, these drugs can affect your eyes:

  • Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax, Ativan)
  • Cocaine
  • Crystal methamphetamine (meth)
  • Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
  • Ecstasy
  • GHB
  • LSD
  • Psilocybin
  • Bath salts
  • Heroin
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Altered senses, such as seeing brighter colors
  • Altered sense of time
  • Adjustments in mood
  • Impaired body movement
  • Difficulty thinking and problem-solving
  • Impaired memory
  • Breathing issues
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with child development during and after pregnancy
  • Hallucinations (when taken in high doses)
  • Delusions (when taken in high doses)
  • Psychosis (risk is highest with consistent use of high-potency cannabis)

How Does Marijuana Affect The Brain?

Aside from causing red eyes, marijuana can affect your body in other ways. THC moves quickly from the lungs into the bloodstream and eventually the brain.

THC works on specific brain cell receptors that affect normal brain development and function. This can impair thinking, memory, and learning functions.

Marijuana can also lead to long-lasting or permanent brain damage. This is due to THC altering the hippocampus.

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Marijuana Effects on Cardiovascular and Digestive Health

Regular, long-term cannabis use can result in cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. This causes cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, requiring emergency medical help.

Marijuana also increases the heart rate for up to three hours following smoking. As your blood pressure rises, it increases the risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular issues.

Marijuana Effects on Lungs

Marijuana smoke aggravates the lungs. Those who smoke cannabis often can have the same breathing issues as those who smoke tobacco, including:

  • Daily cough and phlegm
  • More frequent lung illness
  • Higher risk of lung infections

Can You Get Addicted to Marijuana?

Yes, marijuana is an addictive substance that can cause substance use disorder (SUD). Thirty percent of people who use marijuana may develop some marijuana use disorder.1 People who start using cannabis before 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to have a marijuana use disorder.2

Treatment Options for Marijuana Misuse

There aren't any medications currently available to treat marijuana use disorder. However, these treatment options to help you recover from marijuana addiction and maintain sobriety:

  • Inpatient rehab: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision
  • Outpatient rehab: A treatment program where you can leave the rehab facility
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A short-term therapy technique that explores the link between thought patterns and addiction
  • Support groups: Provides a community to help maintain sobriety after treatment
  • Sober living: These homes are safe environments that help you transition from treatment back to regular life

Continuing research may result in new medications under development to help ease withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of cannabis, and prevent relapse.

Summary

If you consume cannabis, you may experience eye redness or "stoned eyes." This is because of how THC affects blood vessels and capillaries.

Stoned eyes are typically harmless and go away after a while, but there are ways to get rid of stoned eyes. However, long-term abuse can lead to glaucoma or permanent vision damage.

Aside from eye redness, marijuana has other side effects that can lead to long-term health problems. If you're struggling with marijuana addiction, consider seeking medical attention.

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Updated on February 15, 2024
9 sources cited
Updated on February 15, 2024
  1. "Addiction (Marijuana or Cannabis Use Disorder)" Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020.

  2. "What is marijuana?" National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2023.

  3. "Is marijuana addictive?" National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.

  4. "Marijuana DrugFacts." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019.

  5. "What are marijuana’s effects on other aspects of physical health?" National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.

  6. Yazulla, S. “Endocannabinoids in the retina: from marijuana to neuroprotection.” Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, 2009.

  7. "Marijuana Intoxication" MedlinePlus, 2023.

  8. "What are marijuana's long-term effects on the brain?" National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2023.

  9. Dhingra et al. “Illicit drugs: Effects on eye.” The Indian Journal of Medical Research, 2019.

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