Medical Marijuana and Glaucoma
Many scientists, governmental, and non-governmental institutions have been researching potential health benefits from using marijuana medicine. This especially applies to the alternative treatment of the more elusive diseases and conditions, of which glaucoma is one of the more pressing, next to cancer.
As an eye condition, glaucoma is caused by high pressure within a person’s eye. Which damages the optic nerve and reduces vision quality, while it even causes complete blindness in the elderly. Traditional treatment is mostly based on early detection and prevention, while there are also other therapeutic strategies. Studies on the beneficial connection between medical marijuana and glaucoma date back to the ‘70s and were even supported by the US National Eye Institute.
But, does marijuana help glaucoma? What are the benefits of marijuana for glaucoma? And is marijuana good for glaucoma at all? In this article we will share the most respectable published research regarding medical marijuana and glaucoma connection, and what their findings were. Let’s get into it.
What Causes Glaucoma?
As mentioned, glaucoma is an eye disease that causes vision loss due to optic nerve damage. While it is true that the most common cause is ocular hypertension (abnormally high pressure within the very eye), glaucoma has several types, various contributing factors, and can manifest in different ways. Doctors are also suspecting that a patient’s dietary habits, ethnicity, genetics, and some other causes are linked to the condition.
Types of Glaucoma:
- Open-angle glaucoma
- Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)
The open-angle type accounts for approximately 90% of cases of the condition. It is also called primary, simple chronic glaucoma, or wide-angle glaucoma, and it describes the open angle where the cornea meets the iris. It is caused by clogged canals, which directly elevate eye pressure.
Can Marijuana be Used for Glaucoma Treatment?
It is a common opinion that most glaucoma types are life-long conditions, and, when developed, treatment is mostly focused on preventing the deterioration and further decrease of the vision. There are various surgeries, both conventional and laser, focused on preventing further nerve and glaucomatous damage, but there is no guaranteed glaucoma treatment.
Marijuana treatments are, as mentioned, studied for the past half-century.
Medical marijuana and glaucoma treatment tests are based on the ability of cannabis to lower intraocular pressure. This s usually attempted with oral administration, smoking, and even intravenously, while the typical application to the eye, as with other glaucoma treatments, is not a valid method here.
How is Medical Marijuana an Effective Treatment?
Is marijuana good for glaucoma at all? A statement, released in 2003 by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, claimed that the benefits of marijuana for glaucoma were not more effective compared to prescription medications.
Another paper, published in 2010, this time by the American Glaucoma Society, completely discredited any benefits of marijuana for glaucoma. Their main arguments were the side effects of the drug, which were limiting the ability for the patients’ daily living and the short action duration.
Nevertheless marijuana may be an effective substitute to glaucoma medications in case if the patient is sensitive to it. Studies have shown that both marijuana and THC can lower intraocular pressure, which benefits glaucoma patients.
Ways to Use Medical Marijuana for Glaucoma?
If two of the leading institutions on Glaucoma research and treatment have completely discredited the potential benefits of marijuana, is it still used? And, if so, which way? Well, statement positions that do consider the treatment possible all agree on the usual smoking or otherwise appropriate oral intake for which you need to get a medical marijuana card.
Does Marijuana Help Glaucoma Even a Little Bit?
The bottom line is, the official medical institutions cannot even agree on what is causing glaucoma. They all recognize the symptoms and the occurrence of the condition, but they do not agree or even speculate the root cause.
All traditional medication types have a list of potential adverse effects, which is precisely why people are seeking natural remedies and alternative medicine. For instance, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors increase the risk of kidney stones and metabolic acidosis greatly. Miotic agents, like pilocarpine, cause a range of adverse effects from diarrhea to vasodilation, and more.
Thus it is beneficial to continue to test every possible combination and method, potentially beneficial to people suffering from glaucoma and to seek less adverse medications and treatments. Expensive surgeries, like canaloplasty, only offer short-term effects of relieving the pressure, while other methods and implants are even more expensive.
It is strictly advised not to use marijuana as a form of self-medication for glaucoma or any other disease. If you do suffer from glaucoma, you should speak with your ophthalmologist and schedule a consultation with a marijuana doctor about the potential treatment.