Our eyes are vital organs in our body, that we tend to overwork and neglect. This can lead to eye diseases which often develop slowly and are painless. However, some can be so severe it leads to blindness such is the case with Glaucoma.
There is no cure yet for Glaucoma but there are medications and surgery that could prevent or halt the progression of the disease. One of the alternatives and most effective treatments to surface recently is Marijuana.
This specific eye condition affected 64.3 million people (aged 40-80 years) in 2013 and is estimated to increase to 76 million by 2020.
And since there is no cure, the medical community’s efforts in studying alternative treatments such as administering medicinal cannabis to Glaucoma patients are now being brought to a wider scale.
In this article, we will outline what Glaucoma is and how marijuana could/is being used as a treatment by exploring the healing properties of the plant.
What is Glaucoma
Our eyes are linked to the brain through the optic nerve, which is responsible for transporting signals from the eyes to the brain. That way, we are able to interpret the specific image we see.
Glaucoma is a condition wherein there is increased fluid pressure in the eyes, damaging the optic nerve. This eye condition is common among people aged 40-80 and without prompt and proper intervention, it can lead to total blindness which is irreversible or cannot be cured.
There are virtually no symptoms to begin with since no pain is associated with the increased eye pressure. You only start to notice the condition with the slow loss of vision, start with your peripheral (the range you can see on either side of your head without turning it).
Common treatment for Glaucoma available today
While there is no cure yet for Glaucoma, there are available treatment or preventive methods to the disease:
- Medicines – Eyedrops or oral medication
- Laser trabeculoplasty -This procedure allows the fluid in the eye to drain better.
- Trabeculectomy or conventional surgery, where they remove a small piece of tissue to help with drainage of the fluid much like the laser option.
As mentioned, these common treatments and methods can have side effects. Most surgical procedures also need to be repeated or followed up by other expensive medications, which are again, just temporary.
How Can Marijuana Treat Glaucoma?
In the 1960s, a pharmacologist professor at the University of the West Indies Professor Manley West together with ophthalmologist Dr. Albert Lockhart, organized a study on creating cannabis eye drops as a treatment for Glaucoma.
Years after, it was recognized in Jamaica as it has been sold in the market with a drug name of “Canasol”. Canasol has been found beneficial in lowering intraocular pressure.
Marijuana is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties which can relax muscles and relieve pain. In application to Glaucoma it can ease the inflammation on the eyes and provide relief to Glaucoma patients.
How long does it take to work?
Upon administering eye drops, it would take effect after an hour and 30 minutes, then it lasts for approximately 6 hours.
Precautions to consider
While marijuana can provide a natural alternative treatment to Glaucoma patients, one should still be fully aware of its effects in general, since its effect may vary from patient to patient.
Here are some precautions you need to consider before resorting to marijuana for Glaucoma:
- The biggest challenge in treating Glaucoma is regulating intraocular pressure. Regulating intraocular pressure 24 hours a day is very crucial for patients with Glaucoma. Research says marijuana can lower intraocular pressure but it would only last for 3-4 hours. Therefore, in order to have a controlled eye pressure 24/7, marijuana must be applied 6-8 times per day as this can reverberate to a blaze in the intraocular pressure.
- Most of the patients with Glaucoma are over 60 years old. Their safety is jeopardized if they experience dizziness which could lead to falls contributing to further injury. Marijuana is also known to have an impact to the heart. Thus, medical marijuana should be carefully considered or avoided to patients with heart problems which is actually common to people over 60 years old.
- Marijuana in excess can cause a severe drop in the blood pressure. For patients, this can be a problem because the decreased blood supply in the eye can also cause problems.
Patients who are currently on medication or are seeking advice are recommended to check with their doctor before making changes to their medication or trying marijuana as a treatment.
Proper use of medical marijuana should be taken into consideration by every patient and healthcare provider.
So What Is the Safest Option?
The locally-administered cannabis (eye drops) may not have many side effects compared to marijuana being systematically-administered (inhalation). The cannabis eye drops are being combined with drugs specifically for Glaucoma so the combination may be the key to treating and stopping the progress of the eye diseases.
While there is still no definite treatment for Glaucoma, researchers may find a way to isolate the therapeutic chemical in cannabinoids for treatment rather than administering the whole compound itself with all its other chemical reactions.
What Patients Say
Elvy Musikka, a patient from Eugene Oregon and Federal Medical Marijuana
“One of the benefits of using marijuana is that most of us drop all the other drugs that really do a number on our heads and make it difficult for us to stay healthy between our livers, kidneys and everything else about us. It takes other pills to take care of everything else.”
Mark Fitzgerald from UKCIA
“My paternal family has a strong history of glaucoma. My grandfather suffered glaucoma blindness at age 42 and all of his 3 children are being treated with traditional “drops”.
At 48 years of age having been using marijuana as a recreational drug for 30 years I find my ability to focus over short to medium distances (1 to 3 meters) varies from poor when straight to quite good when bent. I base this on my performance in the game of 8-ball (pool) played on a 7′ long table.
I’d be seriously interested in seeing some empirical data about the effect of IOP on the distance between lens and retina as I think that the undoubted drop in IOP resulting from THC must affect the balloon that is the eyeball. I was trying to find a correlation between IOp and focal length when I found your site so I hope this helps.”