Weed has become more popular due to its pleasure-inducing effects. It is one of the most widely-used substances after caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Even though medical marijuana has a growing acceptance, most focus is on how it can treat epilepsy, mental disorders, and chronic pain.
So, how about eye health? Does tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) change the pressure in the eyes? Is it possible to treat glaucoma with marijuana? If so, how well would that work? We will answer those and more with this guide to weed and glaucoma.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a common eye disease affecting people of all ages. This disease is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 65 years old. This disease causes damage to the optic nerve that connects your eyes and brain. The disease gets worse over time. At first, your field of vision will start to get smaller, making it harder to see things in your periphery. If you don’t get treatment, there is a chance that the nerve will die, causing you to go blind.
What causes glaucoma?
Often, optic nerve damage is caused by extreme pressure inside the eye, or what doctors call intraocular pressure (IOP). As a result, the main chamber of your eye or the sclera will be filled with fluid.
If the fluid does not drain properly or is pushed by high blood pressure (hypertension) in the capillaries around your eyes, the pressure inside your eyes will rise. This causes a rise in your intraocular pressure (IOP). This will then put pressure on the retina, stopping blood from getting to it and hurting the optic nerve behind it.
What are the types of glaucoma?
Glaucoma can appear in one of three main ways, and each one needs a treatment plan that is just a little bit different from the others.
- Chronic or open-angle glaucoma
Open-angle glaucoma, also called chronic glaucoma, is the most common type of this disease. This kind moves slowly but steadily. It starts when the trabecular meshwork, which is your eye’s drainage system, stops working. This makes it hard for fluid to leave the eye cavity properly and slowly causes the pressure inside the eye to rise.
Since this process usually happens slowly, it can be easy to miss the signs of chronic glaucoma. You may start to notice blind spots in your eyes or lose the ability to see things in your periphery. Most of the time, people do not notice it until they have tunnel vision or a lot of loss of peripheral vision.
- Acute or angle-closure glaucoma
Acute glaucoma is a sudden rise in intraocular pressure and is often linked to a hypertensive crisis or extremely high blood pressure. The trabecular meshwork gets damaged quickly because of this. Keep an eye out for the following acute glaucoma symptoms:
- Excruciating headaches, especially behind the eyes and in the forehead
- Eye pain
- Halos or rainbows around lights
- Fear or sensitivity to light (photophobia)
Angle-closure glaucoma can cause blindness very quickly, so it is treated as a medical emergency.
- Normal-tension glaucoma
The last type of glaucoma happens when the optic nerve is damaged, but the IOP stays normal. However, its causes are unknown. Some optometrists believe that it may be because of a small blood clot, which can stop blood from flowing around the optic nerve.
Does Using Weed Help Glaucoma Patients?
In the 1970s, a team of researchers led by Robert Hepler found that marijuana can quickly lower eye pressure. People with open-angle and acute glaucoma could get temporary relief from this treatment. But the effects only lasted for a short time. After three hours, the patient’s eye pressure usually returns to normal.
At the time, it was against the law to use cannabis for medical purposes, so researchers did not know much about the different cannabinoids. It was also hard to research which method of administration worked best.
What Cannabis Does to the Body
Cannabis is a genus that includes three main species: Cannabis Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. The word “marijuana” is associated with various negative connotations used to refer to strains of cannabis that contain more than 0.3 percent (THC). Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, does not make people feel high.
Purple Space Cookies (AAAA) is an example of a potent cannabis strain containing 20% up to 25% THC.
Cannabis comprises more than 480 chemical components, of which about 65 have been labeled phytocannabinoids (including CBD and THC). Cannabis also has about 120 other components, including terpenes and sesquiterpenes, which give the plant its smell. The human body makes its own cannabinoid chemicals to induce physiological effects. These chemicals help control memory, focus, body movements, appetite, and pain.
Cannabinoid receptors are found all over the human body, including in the ciliary body and other eye parts. Because of this, when we consume exogenous cannabinoids like THC or CBD, these substances will affect us because our bodies are set up to react to these compounds.
Research into cannabis and the human eye
In the 1970s, ophthalmologists first thought that cannabinoids might be an excellent way to treat eye conditions. When the IOP of a patient with pigmentary glaucoma went up, he could see the familiar halos around lights. He noticed that when he used marijuana, the effects of the halo also went away. So, he asked the court for permission to use medical marijuana to treat glaucoma.
This made people want to look into how cannabis could treat glaucoma. Still, because cannabis is a Schedule I drug, you need permission from several government agencies to move forward.
In particular, if you want to do cannabis research, you must show the National Institute for Drug Abuse that your study is scientifically and morally sound. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a group set up to do scientific research on drugs and drug abuse and help fund it.
How Does Weed Affect Glaucoma Patients?
THC and CBD are the two main active compounds in marijuana that are responsible for most of its medical benefits. Both of these chemicals seem to have properties that protect nerve cells and can help relieve anxiety, pain, and vomiting. You can find these cannabinoids in MK Ulta Smalls (AAA+).
There are many cannabinoid receptors around your eyes. These receptors can “sense” the presence of certain substances and are also affected by them. THC’s effects may include hallucinations, a distorted perception of time, and a strong desire to eat (munchies). On the other hand, CBD seems to be better at treating seizures and anxiety.
Does THC Change the Pressure in the Eyes?
THC can decrease eye pressure. But is it possible that this treatment will work for a long time? In this situation, we need to think about things realistically. The biggest problem is that THC has a short duration of action, so its effects only last for a short time. Open-angle glaucoma is a long-term disease that slowly damages the eye over time. To keep it from worsening, you would have to take THC at regular times, on average once every hour or two.
In other words, you will always have to be high on THC, which is not ideal. It would be impossible to do everyday things like drive or focus on work. Currently, there is no safe dose of CBD or THC that can treat glaucoma. Even though it could help solve other problems in the short term, it might not be helpful in the long run.
If you consider using THC, the Blueberry Strain (AAA) contains 16% to 24% THC, perfect for alleviating glaucoma symptoms such as migraines and nausea.
Smoking Marijuana vs. Traditional Glaucoma Treatment
Glaucoma is a medical condition that can be treated with medicine. Different types of glaucoma medication and glaucoma therapy have been shown to help. Drops for glaucoma that are made today have been shown to work for up to eight hours.
Patients can also choose from several surgical treatments in addition to medications. These include the Xen gel stent, in which a small tube is put into the eye to preserve vision, and the trabeculectomy, in which a piece of tissue is cut from the eye to make an opening where fluid can drain.
It is not a good idea to mix weed and glaucoma treatment with marijuana because experts still do not know how cannabis interacts with standard treatments. There is a chance that the side effects of traditional medical treatments are, in general, much less severe than the harmful effects of taking a lot of marijuana.
Potential effects of smoking cannabis on glaucoma symptoms
Research conducted over the past ten years has shown that the tissues of the eyes contain receptors for the active components of marijuana. Studies have also shown that the active ingredients of marijuana may have several neuroprotective effects. However, no long-term studies have demonstrated whether long-standing marijuana use keeps the eyes, visual fields, or optic nerves healthy.
There is some disagreement about whether or not THC could be used to treat glaucoma. Since there is absorption variability from the gastrointestinal tract, it is hard to predict when the peak effects will happen and how strong they will be. Also, THC and other cannabinoids do not mix well with water. Thus, it has not been possible to make a THC eye drop that can get a high enough drug concentration into the eye.
In addition to making people feel high, marijuana has been shown to lower blood pressure. However, when there is less blood flow to the optic nerve, there is a greater chance that the optic nerve will be damaged, worsening glaucoma. However, with the help of more research, there is still much more to find out about weed and glaucoma.
The good and the bad of using weed for IOP reduction
Smoking marijuana can lower intraocular pressure (IOP) by up to 25% in about 60–65% of people who do not have glaucoma. The causes of this are still unknown. While this is a promising discovery, the drop in IOP only lasts between 3.5 and 4 hours.
To treat glaucoma effectively, IOP must be kept under control all the time. This will almost certainly cause problems with compliance. A person would have to smoke eight to ten marijuana cigarettes daily to get the same effect from regular glaucoma medicine drops.
Potential Treatment of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a common eye disease. Because of this, there are many different medical treatments for it. With the help of cutting-edge ophthalmologic technology, you can get a reliable and consistent drop in intraocular pressure (IOP) for an indefinite amount of time. Here are some of the main ways to treat glaucoma right now:
- Glaucoma medications
Most glaucoma medications come as simple eye drops that you must put in your eyes at set times. You might have to take time out of your day or carry the bottle with you everywhere. Some of them can sting, make your mouth dry, or leave a bad taste in your mouth, but not every glaucoma patient will experience these side effects.
- Laser surgery
Laser surgery is a treatment option that works for chronic (open-angle) and acute (closed-angle) glaucoma. Here, membranes that are responsible for eye drainage are repaired by using a carefully calibrated laser. The surgery can also target the ciliary body, which is the part of the retina that makes more intraocular fluid, to stop it from making more fluid.
- Microsurgery and other minimally invasive procedures
Thanks to our advanced technology, surgeons can make very small cuts and fix even the most delicate and small tissues around the eye. Glaucoma surgery is often done at the same time as cataract surgery. It is made up of the following steps:
- Trabectome or the removal of a piece of the trabecular meshwork, which “enlarges” the opening for drainage
- Insertion of 1 mm long tubes made of titanium into the eye to make a new drainage path
- A specific Glaucoma Treatment System to get the eye’s natural drainage back to normal
Weed and Glaucoma – Frequently Asked Questions
Does CBD help with glaucoma?
Since 2006, several studies have been done to look into and compare how THC and CBD affect the pressure in the eyes. However, CBD in small doses has been shown repeatedly not to affect the eyes. THC led to much better results. THC can lower the pressure inside the eye by up to 40%, whether smoked, inhaled, or eaten.
What cannabinoid helps with glaucoma?
Research has shown that cannabinoids can help treat glaucoma by lowering patients’ Intraocular pressure (IOP). Researchers have said that THC, a phytocannabinoid, has two significant effects: lowering the pressure inside the eye and protecting nerve cells.
When a cannabinoid binds to CB1, it blocks fatty acid amide hydroxylase (FAAH), which regulates other lipid signaling molecules with analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes the effects of the cannabinoid last longer. If FAAH did not do its job, the compound would break down. This causes the pressure inside the eye and the amount of aqueous humor to go down.
Is smoking weed good for glaucoma?
Cannabinoids, found in weed, have been shown to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) just as well as most traditional glaucoma medications in some clinical studies. This is true whether the cannabinoids are taken by mouth, injected, or smoked. However, experts do not prescribe smoking cannabis as a treatment for glaucoma due to the lack of extensive and conclusive clinical trials and research.
Is weed good for eye pressure?
Marijuana lowers the pressure in your eyes, but it also lowers the pressure in your blood vessels all over your body. If your blood pressure goes down, the blood supply to your optic nerve may go down. This could cause damage to your optic nerve.
Since this is the case, it is possible that using marijuana, even though it does lower eye pressure, could make glaucoma-related vision loss worse. Thus, medical marijuana can’t be recommended without going through a lot of clinical testing over a long period to check the health of the optic nerve and the pressure inside the eye.
Does smoking weed make glaucoma worse?
The main thing to remember is that even though marijuana can lower eye pressure, it is not a good idea to use it in any way to treat glaucoma right now. This is because the drug has side effects and only works for a short time.
In addition to making people feel high, marijuana has been shown to lower blood pressure. When there is less blood flow to the optic nerve, there is a greater chance of the nerve being damaged and making glaucoma worse.
At this time of writing, no conclusive evidence points to marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma. However, this does not mean that the substance is not effective and safe in alleviating the symptoms of the disease, which include headaches and nausea. Talk to your doctor if you are considering using medical marijuana or CBD for your treatment.
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