There is a lot we don’t know about cannabis, but there are some interesting findings of its effects on glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease characterized by progressive optic neuropathy leading to visual field loss and irreversible blindness. The primary risk factor for glaucoma is increased intraocular pressure, but the cause of glaucoma remains unknown.
Globally, glaucoma affects approximately a sixth of people above the age of 60 and another third of people above 40. In 2020, 3.6 million people lost their vision due to glaucoma, making it a leading cause of irreversible blindness. It is estimated that about 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma, and most of them are not even aware that they have a problem with their eyes.
Cannabis has been shown to help lower the pressure inside your eyes and reduce nerve damage associated with glaucoma. Evidence from studies suggests cannabinoids can reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) and protect the optic nerve in eyes with normal pressure intraocular hypertension.
Skeptics point out that although some evidence suggests that cannabis may benefit people with glaucoma, it is still unproven. However, there is no proof that cannabis is harmful to people with glaucoma.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
The symptoms of glaucoma are usually subtle at first, so many people who suffer from glaucoma never realize they have a problem until later stages when vision deteriorates. Common symptoms include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Sudden changes in vision
- Difficulty seeing close objects
- Double vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Painful or burning eyes
- A feeling like something is “in” your eye
Types of Glaucoma
There are several different types of glaucoma:
- Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), which accounts for more than 75% of all cases of glaucoma, occurs when fluid builds up behind the iris and blocks the drainage channels; this causes pressure within the eye to increase.
- Secondary glaucoma occurs when other conditions such as inflammation, trauma, tumors, or infections affect the flow of fluids through the body’s drainage system.
Cannabis for Glaucoma – How does it Work?
Cannabis contains over 100 active compounds, including THC and CBD. These compounds interact with our endocannabinoid system, which regulates the homeostasis in the body.
Cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β). TNF-α is one of the primary mediators of tissue injury during acute inflammation. Both of these proinflammatory cytokines are elevated in the serum of glaucoma patients.
Cannabis vs. Traditional Treatment
Several drugs have proven to be effective as medical treatments for glaucoma. However, these medications don’t always work well for everyone. They can cause side effects such as stomach upset, sweating, drooling, and diarrhea.
Cannabis stands out from any other drug for its ability to stop glaucoma from progressing. It has been proven to reduce intraocular pressure and slow down the loss of peripheral vision.
However, there haven’t been many controlled clinical trials on cannabis as a treatment for glaucoma because most doctors still consider cannabis illegal.
The Best Way to Use Medical Cannabis for Glaucoma
The best way to use medical cannabis for glaucoma is to find the method that suits you. Some people like smoking cannabis, while others prefer vaporizing it. Others enjoy eating edibles or drinking tinctures. Find the method that works best for you and stick with it!
Best Strains and Dosage of Cannabis for Glaucoma
Cannabinoid concentrations vary by strain. Breeders are now creating new cannabis strains high in CBD or lower in THC to meet the demands of consumers who want medicines without making them feel high.
Taking one gram of cannabis per day will provide enough relief for most people. However, it would be best if you started low and slowly increased your dosage until you reached the level that works best for you.
You may also talk to your doctor about appropriate doses. Medical cannabis doctors are your one-stop shop for information on medical cannabis treatments.
Risks and Side Effects of Cannabis for Glaucoma
Like any other medication, cannabis can have side effects and adverse reactions. However, they are fewer compared to pharmaceutical medications. Patients are also able to tolerate it better. Side effects such as dry mouth can be handled by hydration compared to nausea/vomiting, drooling, diarrhea caused by pharmaceutical medications.
Tips for Using Cannabis to Treat Glaucoma
- Choose a strain that suits your needs.
- Start slow. Don’t expect immediate results when trying cannabis for the first time. It takes weeks for your body to adjust to cannabinoids.
- Keep track of your symptoms. Make a note of the times you use cannabis to see if there is a pattern to your symptoms; this will help determine if your cannabis dosage needs adjusting.
- Talk to your doctor. Discussing your symptoms with your primary care physician can help you determine if cannabis is working for you.
- Know your limits. Don’t consume too much cannabis at once. It can be dangerous for your lungs.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps keep your eyes healthy.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both of these substances can worsen eye pressure.
- Get regular checkups. Regular eye exams are important to ensure your vision stays strong.
- Use caution. Never drive after consuming cannabis. It may make you sleepy and impair your judgment.
Cannabis is an effective treatment for glaucoma. It can help lower eye pressure and improve vision. While more research is needed, cannabis appears to be a safe and effective treatment for this condition. If you are suffering from glaucoma, you may want to consider using cannabis as a treatment option.
You might be worried about the legal consequences of using cannabis for glaucoma; or that you might not be able to get a medical cannabis card; let us help you today! We specialize in helping patients get their medical cannabis cards and obtain their cannabis for glaucoma.
Visit us today at Medical Cannabis Doctors, and we will introduce you to professionally selected strains that can help you with your glaucoma!