Glaucoma is among the leading causes of blindness in the world, affecting more than 60 million individuals worldwide. A leading cause of optic nerve damage due to glaucoma is intraocular pressure (IOP), which may be reduced by use of medical marijuana. Individuals with normal IOP can also lose vision due to glaucoma. In these cases, medical marijuana may help to halt or reverse deterioration of the optic nerve.
Glaucoma is the name for several eye diseases that share the common trait of degeneration of the optic nerve leading to vision loss and eventual blindness. At the onset of glaucoma, symptoms may not be apparent. The types of glaucoma that affect adults are primary open angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma. Pediatric glaucoma may be diagnosed in children. Normal tension glaucoma is another type of glaucoma, characterized by vision loss despite normal IOP, and diagnosable only by examination of the optic nerve. The last kind of glaucoma is secondary glaucoma, which occurs after an eye injury, tumor, diabetes, or other eye condition weakens the optic nerve. For the treatment and management of all of these types of glaucoma, medical marijuana can be effective.
Medical marijuana’s primary benefit for glaucoma patients is its effect on intraocular pressure (IOP). In one study, more than 80% of patients who smoked marijuana using an ice-cooled water pipe experienced a reduction in IOP of 16-45%. Another study used cannabinoids contained in medicinal marijuana, and found a significant drop in IOP in patients who took THC and cannabinoid oil. A third clinical trial also found that medical marijuana reduces intraocular pressure, as well as blood pressure overall.
Is Medical Marijuana the Right Choice for Your Glaucoma Treatment?
If you’re interested in trying medical marijuana for your glaucoma, you’re in very good company. Glaucoma is among the most common medical conditions treated with medicinal marijuana. There is no cure for glaucoma, but with your ophthalmologist’s guidance, you can combine medical marijuana with traditional glaucoma drugs to create an effective treatment plan to delay or avoid surgical intervention.
Begin by looking up your state’s medical marijuana laws and ensuring you can legally buy and use medical marijuana for glaucoma treatment. Once you’ve educated yourself on the relevant legislation, approach the ophthalmologist currently supervising your glaucoma treatment and tell them you’d like to try medical marijuana. If your ophthalmologist is not comfortable recommending medical marijuana, you may need to work with a medical marijuana specialist as well as the usual doctor. Ideally, you’ll find a doctor who is both a professional ophthalmologist and experienced in prescribing medical marijuana and supervising patients’ medical marijuana treatment.