Is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) helpful for glaucoma Even though the first big research connecting marijuana to glaucoma alleviation came out in 1971 (and was published in the respectable JAMA, of all places! ), jokes about “smoking grandma’s glaucoma remedy” have persisted for decades.
Despite medicinal marijuana’s rising popularity, it is mostly used to treat chronic pain, anxiety, and epilepsy at the moment.
So, did scientists overlook eye health? Does cannabidiol alleviate intraocular pressure? Perhaps more significantly, can glaucoma be effectively treated with marijuana? Here’s your opportunity to talk to a genuine ophthalmologist about using THC for glaucoma without worrying about what they may think of you.
What about glaucoma, can weed help?
To begin, a little refresher on glaucoma
Glaucoma is the most frequent cause of blindness in those over the age of 60. Glaucoma is a disease that causes gradual damage to the optic nerve (which connects your eyes and your brains). To begin with, this makes it such that you can’t see as far to the sides. The nerve may die if not addressed, and that can cause blindness.
The origins of glaucoma are not well understood.
High intraocular pressure is the leading cause of injury to the optic nerve (IOP).
The sclera, the white part of your eye, contains fluid. The pressure within your eyes will rise, or intraocular pressure (IOP), if this fluid doesn’t drain correctly or if high blood pressure (hypertension) in the capillaries around your eyes pushes it there. This, in turn, will exert pressure on the retina, severing its blood supply and causing damage to the optic nerve behind the eye.
Various Glaucoma Subtypes
There are three basic categories of glaucoma, and each has its own specific therapy.
Case of glaucoma
Chronic glaucoma, also known as primary open-angle glaucoma, is the most frequent form of the disease. This one moves slowly but surely. It develops when drainage from the eye is impeded because the trabecular meshwork is dysfunctional. This will increase the pressure inside of your eye gradually.
Signs of this may be easily missed because of how gradually it progresses. Your eyesight may begin to blur or you may have a loss of peripheral vision. People usually don’t become aware of it until they’ve already lost significant amounts of peripheral vision or acquired tunnel vision.
Glaucoma, especially acute or angle-closure glaucoma
A hypertensive crisis (very high blood pressure) is commonly associated to the rapid destruction of the trabecular meshwork seen in cases of acute glaucoma, which is caused by a sudden rise in ocular pressure. Blindness from angle-closure glaucoma may occur suddenly and without warning, making this condition a true medical emergency. Some of the warning signs are:
Painful pressure on the forehead or the space between the eyes
Problems with the eyes
Diarrhea and sickness
lights surrounded by rainbows or haloes
Aversion to bright light (photophobia)
Glaucoma associated with normal eye pressure
The third and final kind of glaucoma manifests itself when the optic nerve is injured while the intraocular pressure (IOP) stays unaltered. The question is, what sets it off? Actually, we have no idea. A tiny blood clot may obstruct blood flow around the optic nerve, according to some optometrists; however, this theory has yet to be proven.
The signs, causes, and remedies for glaucoma have all been discussed at length in our writings. Please refer to our Glaucoma Guide if you’re considering glaucoma treatment.
Can cannabis aid glaucoma sufferers?
If we know how glaucoma develops and progresses, we can assess the impact of marijuana on the disease. Robert Hepler and colleagues in the 1970s discovered that marijuana quickly reduced intraocular eye pressure. People with open-angle glaucoma might find some short respite from their symptoms, and those with acute glaucoma could buy themselves some time. Unfortunately, the relief was just temporary; by three hours, the ocular pressure levels had often returned to normal (far before the cravings subsided).
We didn’t know much about cannabinoids back then because of laws prohibiting their use in medicinal cannabis (the organic compounds naturally present in the herb). Examining which kind of management was most effective was equally challenging. Do we really need weed cigarettes? Could you get the same effect by ingesting it (without endangering your lungs)?
I’m curious about the connection between glaucoma and marijuana.
We now know that the cannabis plant contains close to 400 unique chemical components. We don’t know the sum total of their impacts, but we do know that some of them are at odds with one another.
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the key active components in marijuana responsible for its medicinal benefits (or CBD). Dozens of cannabinoid receptors are located in and around the eye, allowing you to literally “feel” the effects of these chemicals.
Cannabidiol (CBD) chews
The neuroprotective and anxiolytic and antiemetic properties of these substances are well-documented. However, THC is responsible for most of the psychoactive effects of marijuana (such as impaired memory, hallucinations, skewed sense of time, and the cravings). CBD, however, seems to be more effective against seizures and anxiety, and it does not cause weight gain.
This is why, in states where they are allowed, CBD products like oil, candies, candy drops, and even syrups are gaining in popularity. The intraocular eye pressure reduction that is crucial in the fight against glaucoma is unfortunately not included. Using CBD does not seem to reduce intraocular pressure, but rather appears to raise it.
When it comes to glaucoma, why does cannabis not do well?
Multiple research comparing THC and CBD’s effects on ocular pressure have been published since 2006. CBD consistently showed no effects on the eyes at low dosages. Retinal pressure was elevated at 40 microgram concentrations.
THC improved the outcomes significantly. THC may reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) by up to 40% when smoked, inhaled, or swallowed. Although scientifically superior to commercial anti-glaucoma medications, this also had the undesirable side effect of making patients euphoric. Unfortunately, any improvement in intraocular pressure (IOP) was short-lived. Meanwhile, THC drops for glaucoma weren’t helpful and often made people’s eyes feel irritated or burned.
Does cannabidiol alleviate intraocular pressure?
In a nutshell, the answer is yes. But is it possible to make this therapy last forever? Our practical approach is required here.
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The primary problem is that THC’s effects wear off quickly. Damage from primary open-angle glaucoma develops slowly over time. You’d need to take THC quite often, maybe every hour or two, to prevent a worsening of the condition.
To do this, you would need to be under the influence of THC all the time. Normal daily activities like driving, making judgments, or concentrating at work would be difficult. While this may seem exciting in theory, the reality is that they are very disruptive side effects if they are experienced continuously rather than as a means of enjoyment.
In the meantime, there is no known effective CBD dose for glaucoma. In the long term, it might be counterproductive despite its seeming promise for certain circumstances. Therefore, medical marijuana is not recommended for the treatment of glaucoma by the National Eye Institute (NEI), the American Glaucoma Society (AGS), or the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).