Glaucoma Cannabis Marijuana
Glaucoma Cannabis Marijuana

Cannabis For Glaucoma Is The Real Deal

No Longer A Joke To Get A Medical Card, Marijuana Helps Glaucoma

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Thursday Nov 10, 2016

Cannabis For Glaucoma

Medical Marijuana for Glaucoma from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


It is estimated that over 3 million Americans are living with glaucoma today, a majority of whom are over 40 years old. There is no known cure for glaucoma, and if left untreated it can cause blindness. If a glaucoma patient loses their vision, no surgery can restore it. The damage from glaucoma is usually caused by intra-ocular pressure, which refers to pressure within the eye.


Glaucoma is a chronic condition which means that those who have it need to monitor it for the rest of their lives. This is why early detection and diagnosis is so important – to preserve vision and prevent blindness. Early detection can be difficult though, especially since open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, presents almost no symptoms.


There is a variety of conventional treatments available all of which are aimed at preventing vision loss. These include laser surgery, pills, eye drops, or a combination of these treatments. However, the pills used for glaucoma can have side effects and laser surgery may not be ideal for everyone because of its invasive nature and it can be difficult to predict what the long-term success rate will be like.


The most common symptoms of glaucoma include pain in the eyes, blurred vision, excessive redness, seeing rainbow-colored halos around bright lights, sudden loss of vision, vomiting, or nausea.



Studies On Cannabis As A Safe Treatment For Glaucoma


Glaucoma patients are among the country’s most prolific medical cannabis users. Cannabis has been shown to effectively reduce intra-ocular pressure (IOP) and in some cases can even halt the progression of glaucoma. Many studies since the 1970’s have proven that cannabis is definitely effective in reducing IOP. One of the most recent studies conducted in 2014 shows that the cannabinoids in the plant are effective in reducing IOP in glaucoma patients.  The study also found that cannabis possesses neuroprotective characteristics that can help patients prevent glaucoma. 



One of the most notable studies exploring cannabis for glaucoma dates back to the 60’s. Professor Manley West, a pharmacologist, worked with ophthalmologist Dr. Albert Lockhart to research about the potential benefits of cannabis for the condition. They began to analyze cannabis use among Jamaican communities and even developed eye drops containing cannabis called Canasol, which was sold in Jamaica. Canasol was effective in reducing IOP, giving it as much potential as a treatment for glaucoma as conventional medications. Canasol is still used around the world and doesn’t contain any of the psychoactive compounds of cannabis.


In a 1979 study released in the International Journal of Pharmacology and Biopharmacology, 16 glaucoma patients were studied. Half of the participants had high blood pressure, while the other half didn’t. The researchers found that when the participants were asked to inhale cannabis containing 2.8% THC, this caused their heart rates to increase but it was followed by a decrease in IOP and blood pressure. They also noticed that the effect of THC was more significant and lasted longer in the patients who had high blood pressure since it continued for around 3-4 hours.


The same researchers together with other colleagues released an article in the journal Opthalmology in the following year. They analyzed the results of the previous study and noticed that the decrease in blood pressure also resulted in a decrease in IOP after 60-90 minutes of inhaling THC. The researchers observed that cannabis inhalation led to some side effects such as increased heart rate as well as psychoactivity. When blood pressure decreased too much, this also lead to feeling light-headed, so they concluded that inhaling cannabis may have limited benefits for patients of glaucoma.


The following year, the same researchers engaged in a similar study again, together with other colleagues. They discovered that a .1% THC diluted in light mineral oil and administered to the eye of patients who had high blood pressure reduced their systolic blood pressure and can also lead to a decrease in IOP. In 1982, one of the study’s authors published a guest article in the Journal of the National Medical Association that the maximum intensity of topically applied THC in both animals and humans is at around 6 hours after administration and the effect can last up to 12 hours.


Other Benefits For Glaucoma

glaucoma cannabis

Cannabis is also a powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent that can ease the other symptoms of glaucoma. Not all patients will experience pain, although some may experience a stabbing pain in the eyeballs and fast-deteriorating vision which can be permanent without the proper treatment. Cannabis has long been known for its potent analgesic properties that can provide patients with relief thanks to its muscle-relaxing and mood-enhancing properties.


Research shows that low-level inflammation may also be a culprit, thus the fairly recent classification of inflammatory glaucoma. Although there is still a lack of studies focused on the inflammatory aspect of glaucoma, it’s established that cannabis already contains anti-inflammatory properties and may be able to provide the relief that glaucoma patients need.


In addition to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, cannabis can also help address the nausea and vomiting that often accompanies glaucoma. The nausea and vomiting may be a result of oculoemetic reflex. Studies show that THC and other cannabinoid receptors are effective in suppressing feelings of nausea and reducing vomiting because they agonize the CB-1 receptor.


Patients who want to enjoy the medicinal benefits of cannabis for glaucoma without getting high can use eye drops or topical applications. Cannabis or THC oil may also be used on the eye under the supervision of a physician. Regular use of medical cannabis in various forms can delay or eliminate the need for surgery, which most patients with glaucoma want to avoid as much as possible. The only known limitation of cannabis in providing relief from glaucoma is that the effects may wear off after 4-12 hours; cannabis will need to be ingested/inhaled/applied again.



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