How Does Medical Marijuana Help Glaucoma Treatment?

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Glaucoma is the name for a variety of diseases that impact the eye and damage the optic nerve, potentially opening up a person to blindness. Typical eyes produce a fluid known as aqueous, which must then be drained from the eye to ensure a healthy eye pressure. In a common form of the eye disease, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, passageways for aqueous become clogged and stopped up. Fluid accumulation across the eye damages a person’s optic nerve and greatly inhibits their eyesight.

Currently, glaucoma charts as the second most common form of blindness in both the United States and across the wider world. An estimated 64 million people have glaucoma worldwide, and the disease is six times more common in people who are over the age of 60. 

Glaucoma Overview

Glaucoma is seen as a dangerous eye condition for a few reasons. It usually sneaks up on people without any sort of advance warning or early symptoms. In a usual glaucoma case, a person will experience a slow loss of peripheral vision and might start to bump into furniture and other items that are too far off to the side. Loss of vision, even on a partial basis, can have a profound impact on a person’s day-to-day functionality and lead to issues with self-esteem. The effects of glaucoma are currently able to be treated with surgical procedures and some types of medication – but there is no known cure for the eye disease.

Modern medicine is still not yet sure how optic nerve damage can be reversed. However, vision rehabilitation services are able to aid in relieving eye pressure and mitigate any additional damage to the optic nerve or peripheral eyesight. This provides glaucoma patients with hope about their condition and teaches them how to modify their lifestyle even amid vision loss. 

Modern eye doctors and medical professionals advocate for a yearly eye exam that incorporates an eye pressure check for patients who are at least 35 years old. The test, in conjunction with visual field tests, can aid in noticing a buildup of eye pressure and a loss in peripheral vision that could be a signpost for early-onset glaucoma. The earlier symptoms are recognized, the greater the chances that current treatments will slow damage to the optic nerve.

Cannabis and Glaucoma Treatment

Traditional treatments incorporate the use of eye drops or surgical procedures to inhibit optic nerve damage and attempt to reduce eye pressure. In the modern era, a growing number of people remain curious about the benefits of cannabis in glaucoma treatment. The link between marijuana and glaucoma spans back several decades, and the eye disease currently ranks as one of the typically cited reasons a person would utilize medical marijuana. Research dating back to the 1970s suggests a link between the usage of THC and marijuana in relieving and alleviating eye pressure.

Can Marijuana Help Treat Glaucoma?

One 1971 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, claimed a 30% reduction in test subjects who had eye pressure and smoked a marijuana cigarette. The young participants who were being researched were administered an eye exam preceding smoking a cigarette and then underwent another eye exam after they were finished. 

The results of the study made waves across the medical community since, at the time, glaucoma treatments that were out on the market were ill-regarded due to a toxic cocktail of side effects and other issues. The study’s detractors claimed the research didn’t comprehensively cover all pertinent aspects of how marijuana could be used to treat glaucoma, especially in light of potential side effects and other outside factors.

Other research suggests there are benefits with THC pills or injections for decreasing eye pressure. While many ophthalmologists are reluctant to embrace cannabis for early-stage glaucoma, a growing number are more open to utilize in with patients who are in the latter stages of the disease. 

In those who have late-stage glaucoma, treatment targets pivot toward alleviating symptoms, like nausea and pain that accompanies poor eyesight. As demonstrated through a wide variety of studies and anecdotal reports, medical marijuana is effective at alleviating nausea and pain.

CBD and Glaucoma

Research has also been conducted on potential connections between glaucoma and CBD – but the facts are a bit fuzzier. One 2018 study found how CBD, a key component in the marijuana plant, actually raised eye pressure in test mice. Researchers said the results, combined with other studies done on humans, raised questions about the effectiveness of CBD as a glaucoma treatment. According to some researchers, the effects of CBD actually mitigates THC’s ability to lower eye pressure.

The Future of Cannabis and Glaucoma Treatment

There have been a few rounds of research discussing the potential benefits and future of cannabis as a treatment for patients with glaucoma. One factor that potentially complicates the future of the two is realizations there are other factors besides fluid buildup in the eye that can lead to optic nerve damage.  

A slow, but steady amount of evidence suggests decreased blood pressure could also damage the optic nerve if this vital part of the eye does not have enough blood. Since cannabis is known to decrease blood pressure across the entire body, some wonder if marijuana usage for glaucoma might be ineffective, since decreased blood pressure might mitigate the positive effects of lower eye pressure. Right now, glaucoma treatments still centralize around decreasing pressure in the eye to help preserve and protect the functionality of the optic nerve. 

Studies into cannabis and glaucoma are slow going but there’s development on the horizon for the future. Speculation is if cannabis compounds could be modified to eliminate potential risky side effects and see their effectiveness extended for long amounts of time, cannabis might become a viable treatment option for glaucoma patients.

How to Apply for a Cannabis Card for Glaucoma

glaucoma and medical marijuana

Are you suffering from the effects of glaucoma and interested in experimenting with medical marijuana? Here at MDBerry, we’ve made the application for a cannabis card simple and easy. Just fill out a brief application online before speaking with one of our licensed medical doctors to receive approval for your application. 

Upon approval, our team will provide you with immediate access to a temporary medical marijuana card and ensure your official certification letter and other important documents arrive within a week after you’re properly registered. 

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