It has long been known that marijuana, or cannabis, lowers the pressure inside the eye.
Listeners would be interested to know that there is a common eye condition known as glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease which can slowly and silently erode people’s sight.
The condition is caused by a pressure inside the eye which is too high for the optic nerve, the structure which joins the back of the eye to the brain, to handle.
As the optic nerve dies, peripheral (as opposed to central) vision deteriorates. Because it’s peripheral people don’t detect it at first (it is detectable with testing, however). Gradually the peripheral vision loss comes closer to the centre and people develop so called ‘tunnel vision’ by which time the disease is very advanced. Left untreated the patient goes blind.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have your eyes tested for this condition.
The treatment is based around lowering the pressure (so called Intraocular Pressure or IOP) inside the the eye. This can be done by medicated drops, laser or an operation….and marijuana!
Of course it sounds interesting and like it could be a lot of fun. Imagine…the medical use of marijuana to treat glaucoma!
Facts You Should Know About Marijuana in Relation to Glaucoma
- Indeed, marijuana lowers the pressure in the eye but only modestly. In most patients it wouldn’t be enough to control the disease without other medication.
- The pressure lowering effect last only a few hours so you would have keep puffing away all day!
- Though not lethal, the potential risks of using marijuana, both medical and social, can be substantial. Potentially, the effect on the brain can be permanent.
- So, really, the use of marijuana in glaucoma violates the Hippocratic oath to first do no harm!
Now, I know some would compare marijuana with alcohol and tobacco and say these kill a lot more people than marijuana. That’s true. But to use the excuse of it’s medical benefit for the treatment of an eye disease is unfounded. It may be different in the case of pain in terminal cancer patients.
Can Marijuana Treat Glaucoma?
The conclusion is there is no role for the use of marijuana (cannabis) in the treatment of glaucoma.