First, a brief explanation of the disease: Glaucoma is a condition that causes gradual damage to the optic nerve – the connection that delivers visual input from the eye to the brain. This damage is usually due to increased fluid build-up in the eye, which puts pressure on the nerve, slowly damaging it and resulting in vision loss.
According to studies from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, smoking marijuana DOES reduce the pressure in the eye, which means it could slow down optic nerve damage.
The downside? Its affects don’t last very long. To treat glaucoma effectively it would need to be smoked about 6 times a day.
So What’s The Problem Mon?
As most of you know, consuming marijuana that regularly will come with other side effects. Mood alteration aside, many patients would be too stoned to drive or operate heavy machinery. And while there are some other health benefits, frequent smoking would increase the risk of lung damage.
In fact, a study was performed where glaucoma patients were offered the option to take THC pills and/or smoke pot to treat their condition and 9 out of 9 patients discontinued use in less than a year due to side effects.
Are there any other options?
As it turns out, there are. Canasol is an eye drop that was developed in Jamaica from cannabis in the 70s. The idea is that topical treatment would reduce the side effects of inhaling it.
The downside?While medical marijuana is a pretty hot topic, there really aren’t many peer-reviews about this eye drop. While this drop has potential, the minimal research makes clinicians dubious.
For such a common question, this wasn’t even covered during my studies as an optometrist. I can say this however- if glaucoma is caught early and the patient follows their treatment plan, current medication is actually pretty good at keeping the disease under control. So… as long as medicines exist that are more effective, it doesn’t look like marijuana will be the treatment of choice when it comes to glaucoma… sorry guys!
If you have any more information about the ocular health benefits of marijuana or Canasol, feel free to share them in the comments section below!
“ Should You Be Smoking Marijuana To Treat Your Glaucoma?” – Jampel, H.D. MD, MHS, Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, glaucoma specialist, Associate Editor-in-Chief of the journal Ophthalmology and a fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. 2017. www.glaucoma.org
“Cannabinoids and glaucoma” Tomida I, Pterwee R.G. Azuara-Blano A. British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2004;88:708-713
“Just Say No” – Kabat, A.G – O.D. and W. Sowka, J.W. – O.D. faculty members at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry.2007. www.reviewofoptometry.com
Disclaimer: The content in this post is for general information purposes only. It is not meant to be a commentary for or against the use of illegal drugs.