Can Marijuana Really Treat Glaucoma?

Almost universally recognized in medical marijuana states as a qualifying condition, increasing numbers of people have turned to cannabis to help their condition. But is marijuana actually good for glaucoma?

People have been wondering whether or not the claims that marijuana can actually treat glaucoma are true. Instead of traditional eye drops, some glaucoma patients are hoping that marijuana can alleviate their condition. Glaucoma is an optic nerve disease. The optic nerve is the nerve cable that links the eye to the brain. The most common effects of glaucoma are significant vision loss and total blindness at its worst. A huge majority of glaucoma cases are caused by increased eye pressure. Research shows that marijuana can be a viable option to treat glaucoma for its ability to significantly reduce eye pressure.

What are the traditional treatments for glaucoma?

According to an optometrist in Royal Oak, the main goal of every eye doctor treating glaucoma patients is to significantly lower the eye pressure to a safer level to halt any damage that might be caused by extreme pressure levels. Usual treatments include surgery, laser treatments, or prescribing medications.

One of the most common treatment methods used is topical medication eye drops. The mechanism of these eye drops is to lower the eye pressure to a level that will not allow glaucoma to progress. Unfortunately, not every glaucoma patient tolerates eye drops on a daily basis very well. In most cases, aside from the daily eye drops, glaucoma therapies are necessary.

Effect of marijuana on glaucoma

Several states were successful in their attempts to legalize marijuana for medical use. As this happens, glaucoma patients were also debating among themselves whether or not marijuana is the answer to their condition. There have been research studies that revealed how smoking marijuana can significantly lower eye pressure for people suffering from glaucoma and those who don’t. People who cannot normally tolerate standard glaucoma medications may instead use marijuana.

Downsides of marijuana

Though it’s true that smoking marijuana can significantly lower the pressure on the eyes, these positive effects will only last for about three to four hours. This means that if you want to adequately lower the pressure on your eyes, you need to smoke marijuana every three hours.

And since marijuana has mood-altering properties, smoking it once every three to four hours will not be ideal for people who operate heavy equipment, drive for a living or those who have jobs that demand keen attention to details.

Another serious concern is the fact that marijuana cigarettes are made up of chemical compounds that can damage your lungs in the same way as regular tobacco cigarettes. There are studies that suggest that chronic marijuana use can lead to permanent and unwanted effects on brain functions.

Marijuana eye drops and its effects

In the preceding paragraph, we established the fact that frequent inhalation of marijuana can lead to various harmful health issues. This, now, begs the question — can doctors administer marijuana’s most active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), differently? To find an answer to this crucial question, scientists launched research where they had patients ingest THC orally and sublingually. Aside from these two methods of marijuana administration, they also administered topical eye drops to some patients.

The good news is they found out that sublingual and oral administration of THC helped avoid lung problems. However, they found a serious side effect. Since glaucoma is a chronic eye condition, one can experience unwanted systemic side effects. As such, they ruled that THC is not an ideal treatment option.

Also, since eye drops seem like the most feasible and logical drug-taking method, THC cannot be used this way since it’s not water-soluble. This means that developing an eye drop solution with enough THC concentration may be a difficult path to take.

Then again, this is not a reason to lose hope. As you already know, there are diseases and conditions which were left untreated in the past but were almost miraculously solved as technology became more advanced. As more and more research efforts are dedicated to polishing the possibility of marijuana as a cure for glaucoma, it’s not impossible that one day, a marijuana-based treatment will be made available.

And while waiting for that to happen, have your eye care needs taken care of by a reliable optical store.

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