12th Nov, 2018

Does marijuana really help with glaucoma?

Chula Vista glaucoma treatment

Does marijuana really help with glaucoma?

Marijuana is being legalized in more and more states, and California currently allows both medical and recreational use of this substance. Many of our patients with glaucoma have heard that marijuana can be helpful for this condition. Is it true? Can marijuana really help patients with glaucoma?

Marijuana temporarily lowers eye pressure

It is true that the use of marijuana can temporarily lower the pressure within the eye. This is the origin of the belief that marijuana is helpful for glaucoma patients. People with glaucoma have increased pressure within the eye, which causes the damage that can lead to blindness. Keeping the intraocular pressure low is important in glaucoma treatment.

However, the important thing to realize is that the effect of marijuana is short-lived. It lowers the pressure inside of the eye for only 3-4 hours. For patients with glaucoma, it’s important to keep the intraocular pressure low at all times. In order to use marijuana as an effective treatment for glaucoma, it would have to be smoked or ingested at least 6-8 times every day, around the clock.

By contrast, eye drops for glaucoma can consistently keep the pressure low inside of the eyes for 24 hours a day, often when being used just once or twice a day. The superiority of these proven treatments over marijuana is clear.

Marijuana may reduce the blood supply to the optic nerve

In people with glaucoma, the increased pressure inside of the eye damages the optic nerve, which is what leads to vision loss. Lowering intraocular pressure while simultaneously doing damage to the optic nerve in another way will not help save a person’s sight.

One of the effects of marijuana is to lower blood pressure throughout the body. This can potentially reduce blood flow to many parts of the body, including the optic nerve. Some researchers believe that this reduction in blood flow itself causes damage to the optic nerve, which would cancel out the benefit of lowering the pressure in the eye.

There are side effects from marijuana

With any medical treatment, it’s important to consider the overall health effects, not just the effects on the eyes. The truth is that heavy daily marijuana use can cause damage to the body, particularly to the lungs and brain. In addition, marijuana has cognitive effects that make it difficult for most people to function well while they’re using it. For example, it’s illegal to drive while using marijuana, because it dramatically increases the risk of car crashes. Using enough marijuana to keep eye pressure consistently low could cause health problems and would also result in the patient being constantly impaired. This is clearly not desirable.

Marijuana is not recommended as a treatment for glaucoma

The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the leading professional organization of specialist eye doctors and surgeons in the country, has stated that, based on the current research, they do not recommend marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma. Instead, patients should use one of the many glaucoma treatments that have been proven to be effective.

There are many options for treating glaucoma, including eye drops as well as surgical procedures. For our patients who need El Centro or Chula Vista glaucoma treatment, please discuss your treatment with your specialist eye doctor

Posted on November 12, 2018 By , in

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