Marijuana as an alternative treatment for glaucoma
Is cannabis (otherwise known as ‘marijuana’ and a host of other terms) a treatment for glaucoma? Medicinal cannabis is often presented as an alternative treatment for glaucoma. Although there is evidence that cannabis lowers intraocular pressure, its role as a viable glaucoma therapy is limited by a short duration of action, psychotropic effects, and possible tachyphylaxis. Let’s take a look.
What is cannabis?
This word ‘cannabis’ refers to a genus (or family) of plants best known for producing a family of compounds known as ‘cannabinoids’.
The most common variety is Cannabis sativa, a tall plant with long thin fibrous leaves, originally cultivated for fibre and animal feed. Yes, historically its main historical use was for fibre: the first pair of Levi’s was made from hemp (the fibre found in its leaves). It wasn’t common knowledge that this plant had psychoactive properties, perhaps because the early fibrous varieties contained little of the active component. It is the variety which is, however, rich in THC.
The other common variety which is also known for its ‘entertainment’ qualities, is Cannabis indica, a subspecies of cannabis sativa, which is a shorter and bushier plant. This is what is used to make hashish, and is rich in CBN or cannabinol. Cannabis ruderalis originated in Central Russia, and is very fast growing.
Let’s keep the figure and add the figure legend:
“Effect of cannabis inhalation on intraocular pressure (IOP). Reference: Cannabinoids for treatment of glaucoma. G D Novack. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 2016;27:146-50.”
While cannabis has more than 480 chemical constituents, it is only the 66 compounds made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that are known as cannabinoids that are of interest to us here. Of the 66 cannabinoids that are known, two are of particular interest. The first is THC (∆-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychotic agent. Nearly all research to date has been done on this. Interestingly, it has been found that the THC concentration of marijuana (one of the many alternative names for this plant) has increased from
The other commonly known cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has no ‘elevating’ psychoactive effects, but is thought to reduce anxiety. The cannabinoid profile varies according to the species of cannabis plant, the way it is grown, and which part of the plant is harvested.
Cannabis and intraocular pressure
In 1971 it was discovered that smoking cannabis can lower intraocular pressure. To investigate the effect of cannabis on the human visual system, eleven healthy subjects underwent comprehensive eye exams before and after smoking two grams of cannabis. Unexpectedly, the subjects were found to have a change in intraocular pressure ranging from +4% to -45%. Subsequent studies have demonstrated that approximately 65% of glaucomatous eyes will experience a 30% pressure reduction after cannabis inhalation. The pressure-lowering effect lasts three to four hours and is dose-dependent.
THC is the main cannabinoid that lowers intraocular pressure (IOP). It does this by affecting the fluid that fills the eye (aqueous humor). THC is thought to reduce the rate that the eye produces aqueous humor and also to increase the drainage of aqueous humor.
The pressure-lowering effect of THC is not mediated through the central nervous system but is a local eye effect. This makes eyedrops a plausible route of adminstration as the THC molecules only need to reach the eye, not the brain.
THC is also claimed to have a neuroprotectant effect on the optic nerve. This means that THC may directly support the health of optic nerve cells independent of its effect on lowering intraocular pressure. However, evidence for this neuroprotectant appears very weak.
The table of results as published in 1971 by Hepler and Frank (reference provided at bottom of page). OD means right eye, OS means left eye.
1. Marihuana Smoking and Intraocular Pressure. RS Hepler and IR Frank. JAMA 1971, 217:1392.
THC has other ocular effects besides lowering intraocular pressure. These include conjunctival hyperemia (bloodshot eyes); chemosis (conjunctival swelling); mydriasis (dilation of the pupil); sometimes to the extent that eyes are light sensitive (photophobia); reduced tears (dry eyes) and nystagmus (rapid involuntary movement of the eyes).
It has been shown that CBD partially blocks the pressure-lowering effect of THC. This is important, as cannabis plants contain a mixture of cannabinoids including both THC and CBD. Therefore, it is expected that the pressure-lowering effect would be minimal if the form of cannabis consumed contained a significant proportion of CBD.
Tolerance to cannabis
It seems as if one can develop neurological tolerance to cannabis, and it is likely that one can also develope tolerance to its pressure-lowering effect. This would mean that, over time, eye pressure may no longer drop after each exposure to cannabis.
Cannabis delivery to the eye
In theory, eyedrops would be the ideal route to deliver cannabis to the ey, as this dramatically reduces side effects on the body. However, cannabis eyedrops are problematic because cannabinoids are hughly hydrophobic, which means they don’t mix well with the tear film or aqueous humor. Cannabis eyedrops will therefore need to be formulated in a vehicle that increases their water solubility, such as a microemulstion or with a cyclodextrin.
Don’t smoke marijuana for glaucoma.
Not only would this expose your lungs to harmful tars and carcinogens, but in order to achieve continuous 24 hour control of intraocular pressure, you would need to smoke between eight and ten marijuana cigarettes a day. Apparently this would cost around US$2000 a month at current figures.
Other ways of consumption
Oral ingestion is not suitable as absorption is slow and variable. Rectal application would in fact be better (i.e. a cannabis rectal suppository!), because absorption via the rectum is more consistent and this route bypasses metabolism in the liver. However, a rectal product is unlikely to be developed for obvious reasons.
Problems using cannabis to treat glaucoma
There are several problems with using cannabis to treat glaucoma.
Firstly, the pressure-lowering effect is brief (three to four hours), which necessitates frequent dosing. This is impractical for a chronic disease that requires continuous, lifelong control. It is estimated that 24 hour intraocular control would require eight to ten marijuana cigarettes. This dose would have significant psychoactive and cardio-pulmonary side effects and would also be more expensive than conventional glaucoma treatments.
Secondly, tachyphylaxis is another limiting factor (i.e. the loss of the pressure-lowering over time).. One study treated nine end-stage glaucoma patients with inhaled TCH capsules every four hours. All had a reduction in intraocular pressure but seven of nine patients lost the beneficial effect due to tolerance. All patients elected to discontinue treatment by one to nine months due to loss of benefit or systemic side effects.
Side effects of cannabis could be reduced by manufacturing synthetic cannabinoids without psychoactive properties or administering the cannabinoids as an eye drop. Both possibilities are being pursued. A synthetic analogue of THC known as HU211 has minimal psychoactive effects but still achieves IOPpressure-lowering. Intraocular penetration of cannabinoid eyedrops has been unsuccessful so far due to their hydrophobic nature, however this could be overcome by using a microemulsion or cyclodextrin to help penetrate the tear film.
The future promise of cannabis in glaucoma treatment
The cannabinoids hold promise as a new glaucoma drug therapy. Since they act via a different family of receptors, they could work synergistically with existing glaucoma treatments. However, inhaling or ingesting cannabis as a glaucoma treatment makes little sense due to side effects on brain and body, short duration of action, and likelihood of tachyphylaxis (loss of pressure-lowering benefits over time).
Future studies need to focus on individual chemicals rather than non-standardised plant material. In my opinion, if cannabinoids have a role in glaucoma care it will be a synthetic analogue of THC delivered topically to the eye.
CBD for Glaucoma: Does Cannabidiol Benefit Glaucoma?
CBD for Glaucoma: Medical Cannabidiol Health Research Guide + THC Benefits
Glaucoma is an umbrella term that is used to refer to a variety of different eye disorders that eventually result in damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. The primary cause of glaucoma is a build up of pressure in the eyes, which can cause extreme, difficult to treat pain. New research into CBD for glaucoma, however, reveals that cannabidiol could potentially function as a highly effective new therapeutic treatment method.
The most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma, followed by less common types of the condition such as closed-angle glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. Most types of glaucoma develop slowly over an extended period of time and, if not treated, can result in complete loss of vision.
The symptoms of glaucoma, however, are similar across all different types of the condition. Individuals diagnosed with glaucoma typically experience symptoms such as severe eye pain, redness of the eye, blurred vision, dilated pupils, and nausea from chronic pain.
Worryingly, the vision loss caused by glaucoma is permanent, making it an extremely time-sensitive medical condition. The factors that contribute to the development and progression of glaucoma include genetic factors, eye pressure, and high blood pressure.
Glaucoma affects more than 2 million people in the United States alone, and up to 67 million people worldwide. Treatments used to combat glaucoma vary, but often include the use of glaucoma medications such as prostaglandin analogs and beta blockers.
Although these medications are able to minimize the health impact and vision loss caused by glaucoma, they are known to cause a wide range of unwanted side effects such as changes in eye color and skin tone, stinging eyes, eye redness and burning, eye itching, low blood pressure, fatigue, difficulty breathing, reduced libido, and depression.
CBD, however, has recently emerged as a potential therapeutic treatment for glaucoma that can address many of the symptoms of the condition. Clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD for glaucoma is contradictory, with a large body of supportive evidence at odds with newer research that indicates CBD could potentially exacerbate the condition.
CBD is able to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and assist with the management of the chronic pain caused by glaucoma. Some research, however, indicates that CBD could potentially increase the intraocular pressure that causes glaucoma.
In this article, we’ll assess the potential benefits versus the potential negative impact of CBD on glaucoma and find out how cannabidiol interacts with the human body. We’ll examine the scientific evidence both for and against the use of CBD for glaucoma, and break down the clinical evidence supporting each position. Lastly, we’ll investigate the best CBD oil for glaucoma and other products, as well as potential dosage options.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound that is found in the cannabis, or hemp plant. CBD is a cannabinoid compound, one of many different cannabinoids that can be extracted from hemp, and is used to create a wide range of powerful and effective natural health products that are backed up by extensive scientific evidence.
CBD is generally available in the from of CBD oil, or other health products that contain CBD. There are many different dosage and administration options when it comes to CBD — some products contain specific cannabinoid isolates, while other “full spectrum” products contain a complex mix of different health-promoting phytocannabinoids extracted from the hemp plant.
CBD and other cannabinoids are unique in that they are able to interact with the human body through the endocannabinoid system. Every human and every vertebrate organism on the plant possesses a built-in endocannabinoid system, which consists of both cannabinoid receptors and “endogenous” cannabinoids that are made by the body itself.
In humans, the endocannabinoid system is closely linked to the function and health of a wide range of bodily functions. These functions include the immune system, the peripheral and central nervous systems, cardiovascular health, the digestive system, and the brain.
CBD may be extracted from the cannabis plant, but it is very different from THC, which is the psychoactive compound associated with the recreational uses of cannabis. Unlike THC, cannabidiol and other cannabinoids are not psychoactive, which means that they do not induce the “high” that is typically associated with marijuana use.
Until recently, clinical research into the potential health benefits of CBD has been sparse. The relaxation of cannabis laws in the United States over the last decade, however, has catalyzed a new wave of clinical research investigating the ways in which cannabinoids interact with the human body, revealing surprising results.
Cannabidiol has been proven in hundreds of different clinical trials to interact with and modulate thousands of different biological processes in the human body. This allows CBD to deliver benefits that can improve the health of individuals that have been diagnosed with a wide range of conditions and diseases.
CBD is able to prevent seizures, lower inflammation, treat depression and PTSD, help the body heal faster, promote better sleep, increase the uptake of nutrients and improve the health of the gastrointestinal tract, modulate immune system response, and even protect the body from a number of specific types of cancer.
Some of the health benefits delivered by CBD, however, make it a possible treatment solution for glaucoma. Medical marijuana is a common treatment for glaucoma in the United States, but research into the health impact of CBD has identified it as a potential novel therapeutic treatment for the condition.
How Does CBD Work?
The main way through which CBD provides powerful health benefits is by modulating the endocannabinoid system of the human body. CBD could potentially with the management and prevention of glaucoma by interacting with the human endocannabinoid system in order to reduce blood pressure, which is a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of the condition.
There are two ways in which CBD has been hypothesized to assist with the treatment of glaucoma. Firstly, CBD is able to minimize inflammation. Inflammation is linked to the development of thousands of different health conditions and diseases, and has been observed to exacerbate glaucoma.
When cannabidiol enters the human body, it begins to work in synergy with the endocannabinoid system. The human endocannabinoid system is made up of cannabinoid receptors to which endogenous cannabinoids which are made inside of the body pair.
Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol are able to interact with the same cannabinoid receptors that endogenous cannabinoids pair with, with an important difference. Exogenous cannabinoids that come from outside the human body, such as CBD, are actually able to bond with cannabinoid receptors in a stronger and more effective manner than endogenous cannabinoids.
When CBD interacts with endocannabinoid system receptors, a cascade of chemical messages proliferates throughout the human body and causes a wide range of biological changes. One of the most important changes occurs in the immune system.
CBD is able to lower the inflammatory response of the human immune system, thereby potentially helping to minimize the progression of glaucoma.
Secondly, cannabidiol is able to lower blood pressure. The blood pressure levels of the human body is a noted contributing factor to the development of glaucoma — high blood pressure levels are known to significantly worsen glaucoma.
Just one single dose of CBD has been observed in clinical trials to dramatically lower overall blood pressure levels, which could potentially help to minimize the progress of glaucoma.
There are many different ways CBD can be administered. CBD oil for glaucoma is a common use of the compound despite conflicting clinical data, with many individuals self-reporting dramatic improvements in the condition.
Other CBD products that can be used to minimize inflammation and lower blood pressure include CBD topical solutions, CBD vape pens, CBD gummies, CBD edibles, and even more unique health products such as CBD soaps or CBD-infused MCT cooking oil.
Can CBD Help With Glaucoma?
One of the most obvious ways in which CBD could potentially assist individuals that have been diagnosed with glaucoma is with pain management. Glaucoma is known to cause debilitating pain on a regular basis, often inducing chronic pain conditions.
Traditional medical treatments for the chronic pain induced by glaucoma involve the use of pharmaceutical pain medications that are known to cause a wide range of side effects as well as dependency
CBD, however, has been clinically proven to dramatically lower the negative impact of chronic pain and, in some cases, even completely eliminate chronic pain conditions.
There are a number of clinically proven health benefits provided by CBD that could potentially help with the management and treatment of glaucoma.
CBD health benefits for glaucoma:
- Minimized inflammatory
- Lower blood pressure levels
- Decreased chronic pain
- Improved immune system function
- Potential positive impact on intraocular eye pressure
Intraocular eye pressure is the primary cause of glaucoma, but whether or not CBD improves or worsens this pressure is currently a matter for debate. Some clinical evidence indicates that CBD is able to minimize intraocular eye pressure, while other data demonstrates that CBD could actually increase intraocular eye pressure,
The Science Behind CBD and Glaucoma
The science behind the use of cannabidiol for glaucoma is contradictory. Several clinical studies show that CBD is able to minimize overall intraocular pressure, while other investigations state that it could potentially increase it.
The science that outlines the way glaucoma is able to minimize inflammation and reduce the impact of chronic pain, however, is extensively documented.
At a fundamental level, inflammation in the human body is caused by proteins called cytokines. These proteins are created as part of the immune system function, and are also responsible for the pathophysiological pain associated with inflammatory health conditions.
CBD has been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials to reduce the overall amount of cytokines in the blood directly after dosing, resulting in significantly reduced inflammation.
The way CBd interacts with specific neural pathways in the brain allows it to deliver powerful pain management benefits. Clinical investigations assessing the pain minimization benefits of cannabidiol have revealed that CBD is able to modulate a receptor in the brain called the 5-HT1A receptor.
This receptor is closely linked to the release and reuptake of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that is associated with mood balance and pain response. By modulating specific neural pathways, CBD is able to provide powerful analgesic properties that make it a highly effective anti-pain solution.
The pain minimization benefits of cannabidiol are free from the side effects and dependency caused by traditional pain medications used to treat glaucoma, making CBD a potential alternative therapeutic solution for chronic pain induced by the condition.
There is currently a large body of clinical evidence assessing the effectiveness of CBD in treating glaucoma and the symptoms it causes. Clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD as a pain management solution is relatively straightforward, but the evidence either for or against the use of CBD for glaucoma is more complex and contradictory.
Scientific evidence supporting the use of CBD as a novel pain management solution can be found in a clinical study published in the Dovepress Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management medical journal in 2008.
The clinical investigation identified several mechanisms of action through which CBD is able to deliver a powerful and fast-acting analgesic effect without causing any unwanted side effects. The investigation notes that in addition to providing pain management benefits, CBD also deliver a range of secondary health benefits that improve the overall health of the human body.
Evidence supporting the use of CBD in order to lower blood pressure levels can be found in a clinical investigation published in a 2017 edition of the American Society for Clinical Investigation medical journal.
The CBD blood pressure clinical trial administered a relatively high dose of 600mg of CBD to participants that had been previously diagnosed with high blood pressure. Subsequent to dosage, participants were then guided through a number of cardiovascular exercise and stress tests.
The clinical trial found that a single dose of CBD is able to significantly reduce blood pressure, presenting it as a potential alternative therapeutic treatment for high blood pressure health conditions such as hypertension.
Specific clinical investigations into the potential application of CBD for glaucoma have been conducted. An early 2008 clinical investigation assessing the overall pharmacological impact of compounds derived from the cannabis plant — both CBD and THC — found that cannabinoids are able to effectively lower intraocular eye pressure, presenting cannabinoids as a potential novel treatment for glaucoma.
An interesting clinical investigation into the effect of CBD-enriched eye drops was performed in 2018. The trial provided 5 patients with intractable hypertensive open angle glaucoma with CBD eye drops and found that the eye drops have a positive overall impact on intraocular eye pressure. The study did not use CBD-only solutions, however, instead using CBD products that contained high levels of THC.
Why CBD for Glaucoma Doesn’t Work
CBD may be able to minimize the symptoms of glaucoma, but there is a growing body of clinical evidence that indicates CBD may not be the best solution for treating the condition.
A clinical investigation performed in 2006 conducted a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled, 4 way crossover study on the impact of CBD on glaucoma. Participants in the trial were administered with a range of doses from 20mg of CBD, 40mg of CBD, a placebo, or 5mg of THC.
The results of the clinical trial were extremely interesting — THC was revealed to actually decrease intraocular eye pressure, while 20mg of CBD provided no change either way. 40mg of CBD, however, was revealed to cause a transient increase in intraocular eye pressure, which is not a positive outcome for the condition.
Current research into the impact of CBD on glaucoma indicates that small doses of CBD may have no effect on the condition, but higher doses of CBD definitely have a negative impact. In the case of glaucoma, THC — the psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant — is the phytocannabinoid compound that is able to deliver health benefits specific to the condition.
CBD Dosage for Glaucoma
CBD dosage is generally a very subjective matter, with a number of factors such as body weight, individual preferences, metabolic rate, and the specific type of health condition being treated changing the required dose dramatically.
For glaucoma, however, doses higher than 20mg have been demonstrated in clinical trials to have a net negative impact on intraocular eye pressure. For this reason, it is not advisable to dose at levels higher than 20mg daily when conducting CBD self-care for glaucoma.
Many individuals conducting CBD self-care for chronic pain, such as the pain induced by glaucoma, find that doses of less than 20mg per day are effective in minimizing the symptoms of chronic pain. It is possible that a dose of CBD that does not cause intraocular inflammation but still provides relief from chronic pain may be identified in further clinical trials.
Intraocular pressure is a major contributing factor in the development of glaucoma. For this reason, it is critical that any individual considering using CBD to treat the symptoms of the condition first consult with their doctor or a medical professional before beginning any treatment program.
Best CBD Products for Glaucoma
As CBD has been demonstrated to potentially worsen the factors that contribute to glaucoma, there are very few CBD products that could possibly assist with the condition.
THC, however, has been proven to significantly improve intraocular eye pressure, especially when combined with small amounts of CBD.
Thus, the best cannabinoid products that could potentially be used to treat glaucoma are likely to be tinctures. CBD tinctures are not sold in every US state and are difficult to find in international countries that do not possess forward-leaning medical marijuana laws, as they contain THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
Tinctures are often associated with the “entourage effect,” a hypothesis that CBD and other health-enhancing compounds derived from the cannabis plant are far more effective when taken as a whole, rather than isolates of specific compounds.
There is a significant amount of clinical evidence supporting the use of THC to treat glaucoma, and a small amount of clinical evidence supporting the use of very small amounts of CBD to treat the chronic pain and other symptoms caused by the condition.
In most cases, CBD is a very safe natural compound. There have been no clinically observed or reported instances of CBD causing a toxic reaction — extremely high doses of CBD up to 1500mg have been well tolerated in multiple clinical trials.
CBD, however, could potentially exacerbate glaucoma or other health conditions that are impacted by increased intraocular eye pressure. For this reason, it is essential that any individual that has been diagnosed with glaucoma first consult with their doctor before beginning CBD treatment.
In addition to potentially worsening the progression of glaucoma, CBD is known to cause a number of mild side effects.
CBD Side Effects:
- Mild sedation
- Mild lower blood pressure
- Reduced fertility
- Dry mouth
- Reduced cytokine levels
CBD has also been observed to reduce the effectiveness of specific types of prescription or pharmaceutical medications due to the inhibition of a specific enzyme required to metabolize them.
These drugs include:
A: CBD is a naturally-occurring compound that is extracted from the cannabis plant. When CBD enters the human body, it modulates the endocannabinoid system and, in most cases, causes a wide range of health benefits.
A: CBD is a legal health treatment that is available over the counter without prescription in most US states. This legality is due to the fact that CBD contains no psychoactive compounds. CBD tinctures, which can potentially assist with the management of glaucoma, are not legal in states that do not have favorable medical marijuana laws.
Q: Is CBD a good treatment for glaucoma?
A: CBD may be able to minimize the side effects of glaucoma, but could make the overall progress of the condition worsen in doses over 40mg
Q: Doe CBD cure glaucoma?
A: CBD does not cure glaucoma, and has been indicated in some clinical trials to potentially worsen the condition
A: CBD is not known to cause any negative health impact apart from mild low blood pressure and increased intraocular pressure at doses over 40mg.
Eye to Eye with Cannabis & Glaucoma
First things first: this article is not medical advice. It is provided to the Three Wells community for informational purposes only. Consult your healthcare professional before deciding to treat any medical condition.
People with glaucoma are increasingly asking, “Can marijuana really treat glaucoma?” Let’s learn a bit more about the disease and how medical marijuana might help.
The Problem with Intraocular Pressure
Glaucoma is a condition characterized by increased fluid pressure within the eye — known as intraocular pressure (IOP). This can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerve endings that carry impulses to the optic nerve, which can impair vision — and even lead to permanent vision loss. “open-angle glaucoma” is classified as a chronic condition.
“Chronic” means a condition that lasts a year or more and requires ongoing medical attention. In this case, pressure slowly increases over time, and there can be peripheral vision loss and problems seeing in the dark — even irreversible blindness. “Closed-angle glaucoma” is an acute condition. This means it comes on rapidly and requires immediate medical attention. In this case, the pupil may become dilated and fixed and immediate medical attention is required.
The chance of glaucoma increases with age and has a genetic predisposition — if someone in your family has it, you are likely to develop the condition as well. Glaucoma can often be treated with medicated eye drops.
Can You Treat Glaucoma with Cannabis?
Cannabinoids, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol), and terpenes are the active components found to have medical properties in cannabis — AKA marijuana. (For more information on these components and much more about the plant, see our section on the Science of Cannabis . )
Marijuana is available in 36 US states for medical purposes, and it is legal for recreational use in 19 US States. Despite an evolving positive attitude related to its towards marijuana, it is still classified by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I (1) controlled substance.
It was first observed that cannabis reduced intraocular pressure during a 1971 systematic investigation on healthy cannabis users. It was found that some derivatives of cannabis lowered the intraocular pressure when administered intravenously, smoked or taken orally — but not when applied topically to the eye.
Because it was thought that constant inhalation of cannabis was required every three hours, it was not recommended to use medical cannabis as a glaucoma treatment at that time. To some, the ensuing side effects significantly outweighed the benefits.
THC and CBD for Glaucoma
Even so, the studies continued. A non-psychoactive extract of cannabis was tested in combination with Timolol eye-drops in glaucoma patients with high IOP in 1980. (“Psychoactive” meaning affecting how the brain works and causing changes in mood, awareness, thoughts, feelings, or behavior. Examples of psychoactive substances include alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, marijuana, and certain pain medicines. ) T
he study found that the effects of the cannabis and eye-drops were complementary and were beneficial in some cases where other medications had failed. Cannabis treatments for glaucoma have mostly been in combination with eye drops, as the effects seem to be additive.
While more testing needs to be done to determine how and when cannabinoids are indicated in glaucoma treatment, the results have been eye-opening: cannabis decreases intraocular pressure (IOP) by an average 25-30%, occasionally up to 50%. Some non-psychoactive cannabinoids also decrease pressure, as do some non-cannabinoid constituents of the hemp (to a lesser degree.) The specific mechanism in cannabis that causes this is not known.
With patients who use cannabis as medical treatment, it’s been shown that use does not have to be administered every 3 hours for long-lasting eye pressure reduction. But THC does seem to be more effective than CBD.
A topical preparation of cannabis is not yet available as a pharmaceutical treatment, but this approach is promising. A single topical application of THC lowered IOP substantially (
28%) for 8 hours in male mice.
Ingest or Smoke: Which is Better?
In general, a 10 mg dose of THC one to two times a day might be required for eye pressure reduction. This can be delivered as THC-rich cannabis, or mixed with CBD to decrease psychoactivity, as in a CBD/THC 1:1 mix.
Some choose to take most of their THC before bed, so it acts during sleep. A typical example here might be 10 mg at bedtime, and then a low dose of the mix one to two times during the day. This can be done with edibles, tinctures, or capsules.
For those who want to use marijuana cigarettes or vaporize, it should be done at least 4 times a day to reach sufficient THC levels.
There is no approved eye drop formulation of THC.
The Future of Eye Health
It’s clear that cannabis shows promise for people with glaucoma. But as with any decision regarding serious conditions and your overall wellness, it’s one to be carefully considered and made only with the guidance of your trusted doctor.
Does CBD reduce eye pressure?
Studies have shown that smoking marijuana lowers intraocular pressure, but is not as potent or long-acting as other medications available on the market. THC and CBD oils are less rigorously studied, but those studies suggest they may lower eye pressure.
Administration of CBD did not reduce the IOP at any time. However, higher doses produced a transient rise in IOP up to 2 hours after administration, which lasted for 4 hours. Visual acuity and vital signs were unaffected.
Is CBD considered a glaucoma treatment?
According to research, when CBD is administered properly it could potentially treat glaucoma. It has vaso-relaxant properties, increasing blood flow in the ocular tissues and anti-inflammatory qualities. This can relieve pain for those with glaucoma.
Can CBD oil help your eyesight?
CBD has antioxidant properties, and research suggests it may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD). The neuroprotective properties may help some retinal diseases such as retinal ischemia.
What is the best treatment for glaucoma?
Open-angle glaucoma is treated with a combination of medications, laser surgery, and microsurgery. Doctors usually start with eye drops, but some might benefit from early laser treatment or microsurgery. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is generally treated by using a laser procedure.