Does marijuana help Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition that effects the optic nerve in the eye damaging it over time. First it reduces the peripheral vision and can ultimately lead to total blindness. Higher-than-normal eye pressure (also called intraocular pressure or IOP) may cause damage to the optic nerve in an eye with glaucoma.
Most doctors will say that it isn’t practical to treat glaucoma with Cannabis – here’s why
Glaucoma needs to be treated 24 hours a day so it really can’t be treated with cannabis or other compounds derived from marijuana, such as CBD. Eye pressure has to be managed 24 hours a day to properly treat glaucoma. It’s just not practical to constantly use marijuana.
You would have to ingest about 18 to 20 mg of THC six to eight times a day, every day to constantly reduce pressure. Using that much cannabis would seriously change your mood, mental clarity and prevent you from operating heavy machinery. Also, as a treatment every 3-4 hours, it would be too expensive for most people.
Using Marijuana may even do damage to the optic nerve in people with glaucoma
Researchers still haven’t figured out how cannabis affects eye pressure and glaucoma. Long-term use of cannabis may even cause damage to the eyes or make vision worse in some patients.
High eye pressure isn’t the only cause of optic nerve damage. The optic nerve can also be damaged by low blood flow. This is a serious issue because marijuana not only lowers eye pressure — it lowers blood pressure throughout the entire body. Marijuana might lower blood flow to the optic nerve, which would cancel out the benefit of lowered eye pressure.
For now or at least until more research is done, the American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend marijuana or other cannabis products for the treatment of glaucoma. The American Glaucoma Society and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society agree.
So, when did people start saying marijuana was a cure for their glaucoma?
In the United Staes and Canada marijuana is becoming legal in more places every day and visibility has never been higher. People are talking about marijuana as a potential treatment for a ton of health conditions. So the question still remians, does marijuana help Glaucoma?
All the research done in the 70’s and 80’s proved to show marijuana decreases intraocular pressure for a few hours whether it’s smoked or taken in edible form.
Alcohol also lowers pressure in the eye for about an hour after one drink but no doctor is prescribing alcohol for your glaucoma.
When it’s all said and done, there’s no proof that THC benefits people with glaucoma
Over the years there have been studies done on THC eye drops, cigarettes and pills. The drops burned the eyes and didn’t lower eye pressure. Sublingual drops (under the tongue) didn’t reduce eye pressure either.
In a different study, glaucoma patients were given THC pills and/or cigarettes. After nine months every participant asked to stop because of side effects.
What about CBD and glaucoma?
There’s been a ton of research on CBD which is a derivative of cannabis that doesn’t get you high. They’ve done studies where it’s been smoked or eaten, the research wasn’t very compelling and it doesn’t seem that CBD is an effective treatment for glaucoma either. In fact, in a recent study they showed that CBD may actually increase eye pressure, which could make glaucoma worse.
Researchers are looking into the various cannabinoids in marijuana to see if they offer a potential glaucoma treatment. If they can isolate the useful compounds in marijuana and make the effects long-acting, without side effects, they may lead to new treatments down the road. However, these types of developments will require more study and are years away from becoming a reality.
The bottom-line regarding glaucoma and marijuana
- The largest association of ophthalmologists and eye surgeons in the world do not endorse cannabis or its derivatives as a glaucoma treatment.
- No one should self-medicate with marijuana in an attempt to treat glaucoma. You can lose your vision if you don’t have a proven, effective treatment for glaucoma.
- Talk to your ophthalmologist to find the glaucoma treatment option that’s best for you.
- Let your doctor know if you do use marijuana regularly.
So, does marijuana help Glaucoma?
Right now, the only way to treat glaucoma and prevent further loss of vision is to lower the pressure in your eye. Several current and effective treatments for glaucoma are more reliable and safer than marijuana.
Your ophthalmologist can treat your glaucoma with medication, using prescription eye drops, or performing surgery, depending on the type of glaucoma and how severe it is. If you have glaucoma, follow your ophthalmologist’s advice to get the treatment that’s right for you.