One of the most distinctive, telltale side effects of smoking weed is the redness found in the human eye after a serious smoke session. Red-ringed eyes can be uncomfortable and a dead giveaway if you’re trying to be inconspicuous about your smoking, so it’s hardly convenient that our bodies react in this way when we light up. Sometimes this is caused by allergies, either to mold found in the plant, the plant itself or to the smoke generated when you light up. This can also mean itchiness and other symptoms for unfortunate allergy sufferers.
But despite all of this, you might be surprised to learn that weed provides numerous benefits for your eyes-even though it also dries and reddens them.
Weed positively impacts your eyes by tapping into the endocannibinoid system (or ECS), the largest cellular connection network in invertebrates. The compounds found within the plant engage cannabinoid receptors. The human eye actually host to high levels of a particular cannabinoid receptor, known as CB1. Vision processing centers of the brain also have a hand to play in this process.
A 2016 study implemented the use of an electroretinogram, which functions to record the electrical response of the eye to light. This Neural Plasticity study found that manipulating these cannabinoid receptors modifies the way that electroretinographic waves move through the retina.
Further research still needs to be conducted to have a full understanding of how smoking weed can impact one’s eyesight, but the results of the 2016 study are a good basis for future endeavors regarding the relationship between cannabis and vision. The same study cited above also indicates that the psychoactive compound of the plant, known as THC, can increase an individual’s ability to see at night. This has actually been a topic of discussion for health professionals and researchers for about thirty years.
Cannabis can also be used in the treatment of numerous conditions that impact one’s eyesight, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and neurodegenerative blindness.