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Does CBD Make Your Eyes Dry?

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In today’s wellness landscape, cannabidiol (CBD) stands out as a natural compound with promising benefits. Found in the Cannabis Sativa plant, this non-intoxicating derivative has been purported to help with a myriad of health issues, from anxiety to pain management. 

The characteristic “red eye” phenomenon associated with cannabis use is well-known and often attributed to the effects of THC. This effect might lead to dry eyes, as it can disrupt the natural production of tears. However, CBD is different from THC in a few key ways, and while some people report dry eyes after CBD use, there isn’t yet definitive research linking CBD to dry eyes

If you notice dry eyes after using CBD, it could signal an issue with your eye health, so it’s a good idea to book a checkup with your eye doctor. They can help determine the cause and rule out any serious eye concerns.

Understanding CBD & Its Effects

When we discuss CBD, it is important to delineate between it and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce psychoactive effects (the sensation of feeling high). Instead, CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, playing a role in regulating an array of physiological and cognitive processes. 

Potential benefits of CBD include:

  • Reducing anxiety and stress
  • Supporting sleep health
  • Alleviating pain and inflammation

Just as CBD might have an array of benefits, it can also present potential side effects. These side effects can include diarrhea, changes in appetite, and fatigue for some people.

The Link Between CBD & Dry Eyes

There are plenty of anecdotal reports or experiences of CBD users who claim to have experienced dry eyes after consuming CBD products.

While the direct link between CBD use and dry eyes is still an area of ongoing research, there is a growing body of evidence that certain cannabinoids, including CBD, can impact tear production and consequently lead to dry eyes. 

A recent study found that cannabis use could significantly reduce the production of tears, increasing the risk of dry eye symptoms. While this study was not CBD-specific, it suggests a plausible connection between CBD and dry eyes.

Factors Influencing Eye Dryness

Several factors can contribute to dry eyes, and CBD use may be one of many triggers for this condition. Common causes of dry eyes include environmental factors such as dry air or wind, usage of certain medications, aging, and staring at screens for extended periods without blinking enough.

The interaction between CBD and eye dryness is still not completely clear. The endocannabinoid system has been associated with regulating the tear film, and the overactivity of this system has been correlated with reduced tear production.

The tear film consists of 3 layers that help protect and hydrate your eyes—the inner mucous layer, the watery middle layer, and the outer oil layer. Disrupting these layers can leave your eyes vulnerable and lead to dry eye. 

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Dry eye can cause an array of symptoms that vary in severity from person to person. Common symptoms include:

  • A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • Stringy mucous in or around your eyes
  • Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind
  • Eye fatigue after short periods of reading or screen time
  • Redness in the eyes
  • A sensation of having something in your eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue

Managing Dry Eyes

A close-up of a young person applying eyedrops to his left eye.

If you use CBD and start to experience symptoms of dry eyes, several management strategies can help. These include lifestyle modifications such as:

  • Taking regular breaks from screens
  • Using a humidifier to maintain indoor humidity
  • Practicing the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds)
  • Using eye drops or artificial tears

Chronic Dry Eyes

You may have chronic dry eyes if your dry eye symptoms recur or don’t go away after CBD use. For more severe cases of dry eyes, you can visit your eye doctor for in-office treatments.

At Eyes Harvest Hills, we offer various dry eye therapy options. These include:

  • BlephEx
  • LipiFlow
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy
  • LipiScan
  • Low-level light therapy (LLLT)
  • Zocular eyelid system treatment (ZEST)

These treatments are designed to target specific underlying causes of dry eyes, like meibomian gland dysfunction and blepharitis. A comprehensive eye exam is the first step to finding the root cause of your symptoms; then, your eye doctor can recommend a suitable treatment.

Consult Eyes Harvest Hills About Dry Eyes

While there may be a link between CBD use and dry eyes, it’s not definitive, and there are many other potential causes for your symptoms. Regardless of what you think is causing your eyes to feel dry, visiting your eye doctor is the first step to finding relief. 

Come see our team at Eyes Harvest Hills for a dry eye consultation. We can examine your eyes, talk to you about your symptoms, and create a personalized plan to help relieve your symptoms long-term. Book an appointment today to get started.

Written by Dr. Charanjit Sihota

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