Does Marijuana Help Glaucoma?
People who are diagnosed with glaucoma are at risk for developing vision problems and even going blind. While prescription medications can help to keep the condition under control, many people today are now beginning to turn to medicinal marijuana to address their symptoms and manage glaucoma.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an incurable eye disease in which the pressure of the eye or intraocular pressure becomes abnormally high. The pressure compresses the optic nerve and gradually damages it over time. While anyone can develop glaucoma, the condition is most common in people over the age of 60. Those who have a family history of the disease and African-Americans tend to be most at risk for glaucoma.
How Cannabis Helps
The idea that cannabis may help glaucoma patients is nothing new. In fact, during the 1970s, a college professor named Robert Randall sued the U.S. government for the right to use cannabis to treat his glaucoma and won.
Studies have found that cannabis loosens a mesh-like material inside of the eye, allowing blood to flow more freely. This results in a drop in intraocular eye pressure.
Drawbacks of Cannabis for Glaucoma
While few doctors and scientists disbelieve the scientific evidence that cannabis lowers intraocular pressure to benefit people with glaucoma, there is debate over whether or not marijuana is a suitable treatment for the condition.
The main problem is that the effects of cannabis are short lived. After smoking a joint, the pressure only falls for a few hours. As a result, people would generally need to smoke weed six to eight times per day to successfully control glaucoma. This would mean that people would have to spend their entire days intoxicated and unable to drive.
Another concern about smoking cannabis for glaucoma is the effects that smoking has on the lungs. Some doctors address this by recommending marijuana vaporizers to patients in medical marijuana states. A cannabis vape pen (as seen here at VaporPlants) or portable unit exposes the body to fewer toxins and has been found to be gentler on the airways than smoking.
Future of Treatment
With the legalization of medicinal marijuana and the rise of vape pens like wax pen and herbal vaporizer pen models, there may be new hope for cannabis becoming a mainstream treatment for glaucoma. It could be possible that the purer delivery system of a dab pen (see dab pens on vaporplants.com) could mean that cannabis might be able to control the pressure inside the eye for longer. Legalization also makes it easier for research into new delivery methods, such as cannabis eye drops, to be conducted by drug companies, universities, and research institutes.
If you have glaucoma, you shouldn't try to use a marijuana vaporizer to control the disease on your own. It's best to work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
References: umm.edu | aao.org | glaucoma.org
Photo Credit: VaporPlants
The video about Marijuana and Glaucoma below.
Captioned Version of the video above.