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Cannabis as Treatment for Glaucoma?

Cannabis as Treatment for Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. That extra fluid increases the pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve,which can cause blindness. Glaucoma affects more than 400,000 Canadians and 67 million people worldwide. It is commonly found in elderly people, and is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world.

Treatments used for Glaucoma are usually eye drops, medications, laser surgery, traditional surgery or a combination of these methods. The goal of any treatment is to prevent loss the loss of vision. Unfortunately even with treatments any loss of vision that does occur is irreversible.

As an alternative, cannabis may be a possible treatment for glaucoma. Studies in the 70’s demonstrated  that smoking cannabis lowered the Intra-ocular pressure (IOP) of the test subjects with glaucoma.  As a result of this study, additional studies were conducted and supported by the National Eye Institute examining whether cannabis or  THC, could be used to keep IOP lowered.

Also… an animal study published in 2000 in  Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology demonstrated that topical HU-211 (a synthetic, non psychoactive derivative of Cannabis) when applied to one eye of an animal test subject, showed a decrease in intra-ocular pressure and lasted for more than 6 hours. Also, the IOP was also lessened in the untreated eye of the animal, although the effect was minimal and lasted for only 4 hours.

In an animal study published in 2004, researchers  found that “topical administration of  (a synthetic, non-psychoactive cannabinoid derivative, or varied/altered form, that blocks NMDA receptors, instead of stimulating cannabinoid receptors) to one eye of rabbits was able to decrease intra-ocular pressure. Effects began within 1.5 hours of administration and lasted for more than 6 hours. Additionally, IOP was decreased in the eye to which HU-211 had not been administered, although the effect was small and lasted for only 4 hours.” this study shows that use of cannabinoids may be useful in treating glaucoma without the psychoactive side effects of THC.”

Even with the positive results of these studies, few eye specialists these days support the use of cannabis to treat their patients glaucoma and would not recommend it as a treatment.

Having said this, there is still overwhelming anecdotal evidence from people who are using medicinal cannabis it as a treatment for their glaucoma  and finding relief. But it is always a good idea to talk to your health professional if you are considering using cannabis as a treatment for glaucoma.

Thomas Orvald M.D. Discusses Medical Cannabis and Glaucoma (below)


Sources
NIH
NCBI
AAO.org

Video

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