Marijuana for Glaucoma

April 17, 2018 09:22 pm ET
Marijuana for Glaucoma

It is 2018, and we know by now that marijuana is used in the treatment of several diseases. As time passes, more people are gaining access to marijuana legally. With this growing interest in marijuana, more researchers are keen to do more studies regarding the benefits of medical marijuana to many diseases, and among them, we have glaucoma.

Unlike what most people think, Glaucoma is not only one, but a group of diseases that damages the optic nerve of your eye. It happens when the optic nerve endures pressure from fluids that build up in front of your eye, thus damaging it. The optic nerve is responsible for sending visual information and signs to the brain, and if it is damaged, can lead to blindness.

There are two major types of Glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma being the most common type. This type of Glaucoma is painless, happens gradually, and it doesn’t cause any changes in the person’s vision at first. Angle-closure glaucoma/Closed-angle glaucoma/Narrow-angle glaucoma is the type of glaucoma in which the person has acute attacks, and its development is slow. An acute attack makes the person’s vision blurry, cause severe eye pain, headaches, nausea, vomiting and seeing rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights. When this attack happens, you need to go immediately to the ophthalmologist, or you risk becoming blind.

This disease affects more than 60 million people in the world, and it is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 years. However, you can prevent it by treating the disease in early stages. There is no cure for glaucoma, but there are several treatments available, like surgery, eye drop medication, lifestyle changes, laser procedure, etc. Some studies showed that treatment with marijuana is able to improve many symptoms of glaucoma. Despite the uncertainties, doctors still recommend cannabis and many people use marijuana for treating glaucoma, even Whoopi Goldberg recommends it.

Marijuana is often taken as an alternative treatment when the common treatments do not work or are not enough to lower the eye pressure. One of the first studies made about the results of marijuana in glaucoma treatment showed that it helped alleviate glaucoma-related symptoms since its substances lowered the intraocular pressure (IOP) and have neuroprotective actions. Since then, many other studies have been conducted, and they all showed that marijuana was able to lower the patients IOP by 25 to 30 percent.

Although the results are good, doctors are reluctant when it comes to using marijuana to treat glaucoma. Since the effects of lowering eye pressure last from 3 to 4 hours, the person with glaucoma would have to smoke 6 to 8 times every day to keep the eye pressure stable. Doctors are concerned that although cannabis is natural, there are some side effects when using it. One of the doctor’s most significant concerns is about the impact of smoking in the lungs. So far, people haven’t formulated an eye drop with sufficient THC concentration to be useful as a treatment.

Whether marijuana is ideal for the treatment of glaucoma or not, many U.S. states like Alaska, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon and others have the disease listed in the qualifying conditions for getting medical marijuana treatment. Some people say it helps them with their eye pressure, others use it as a secondary treatment for the symptoms of glaucoma like vomiting and nausea. Thus far it seems to be a promising option for future cannabinoid-derived medications.

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