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Many cannabis users recognise it: dry and red eyes after blowing weed or hash. While smoking or after eating your edible, it starts, and with a bit of bad luck, you're left with sticky eyelids and red eyes the next day. Why do you sometimes get such dry and red eyes from weed? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

Why cannabis and hash give you dry eyes

To explain why cannabis gives you dry eyes, let's dive into biology for a moment. Cannabis products contain cannabinoids. The best known are THC and CBD. In your body, there are cannabinoid receptors: places where cannabinoids can bind to. After binding, processes are initiated and other substances are produced and transported through your body. Including dopamine, the 'reward' neurotransmitter that makes you happy and active. THC is mainly responsible for this dopamine boost; this is the substance that can make you feel really high.

So what does research on the impact of cannabis on dry eyes show? THC activates certain cannabinoid receptors in your tear gland. As a result, your eyes receive fewer signals that tear fluid needs to be produced. And so you get dry eyes. By the way, do you often get dry mouth from blowing too? There seems to be the same mechanism there too....

Why do you get red eyes from cannabis?

Another well-known problem after smoking or eating cannabis such as weed and hash: red eyes. THC is also responsible for those bloodshot eyes. This is because THC can lower your blood pressure, causing the vessels in your eyes to widen and become better supplied with blood. The blood vessels in your eyes thus become larger and more visible. So there's no need to worry that veins have burst!

What can you do about dry eyes after blowing weed or hash?

There are a number of things you can do to provide your eyes with enough moisture and make them feel less dry. Here are the best tips:

Artificial tears / eye drops

Using artificial tears or good eye drops can help provide instant moisture to dry eyes. These eye drops provide extra moisture and can help restore the natural balance of tear fluid in your eyes. Artificial tears are suitable for frequent use; your eyes do not 'get used' to them. So use them as often as you need them!

Don't forget to blink

When you blow, vape or have had edibles, you get nice and relaxed at some point. You may forget to blink your eyes sufficiently. But blinking is so good for hydrating your eyes. So deliberately blink a lot every now and then.

Fresh surroundings

The room you are in affects your eyes. If the air is very dry, your eyes will be dry faster. If you smoke cannabis with your friends in a closed room, it is not surprising that you get dry eyes! So ventilate sufficiently by opening a window. By the way, for a few euros you can buy a humidity meter to see if the room is too dry. If necessary, put a few containers of water on the heater to increase the humidity of the room.

Take off your lenses

Do you wear lenses? Swap them for your glasses. Wearing contact lenses can cause and worsen dry eyes. Especially if you have them in all day and start blowing late at night.

How harmful are dry eyes?

Having dry eyes occasionally is not that problematic. But if it becomes chronic, you do run the risk of eye damage. This is because tear fluid is important to protect your eye. If they become too dry, the outer membranes of your eyes can be damaged, and you are more likely to get eye infections. Something you definitely want to avoid!

If you often suffer from dry eyes after cannabis or even sober, visit a specialist for a check-up. They can assess the condition of your eye. There are several conditions for which dry eyes are a side effect, such as diabetes and rheumatism. Medication can also be a cause. Above all, discuss this with your GP or eye specialist so that you can be helped properly.