There have recently been big debates in USA about legalising marijuana for all kinds of medicinal use with massive campaigns lobbying its usefulness. At present, 23 US states have actually legalised medical marijuana!
One of the commonly discussed alternatives for the treatment of glaucoma is the smoking of marijuana.
Is this a myth… Or does it actually benefit glaucoma sufferers in any way?
Answer: Smoking Marijuana has actually been found to LOWER Eye pressure.
However the effect of marijuana’s on the eye pressure only lasts 3-4 hours, meaning that to lower the eye pressure around the clock it would have to be smoked 6-8 times a day!
Although marijuana does lower the eye pressure, it also lowers blood pressure. Lower blood pressure could result in reduced blood supply to the optic nerve, which in turn may actually harm the optic nerve. So it is possible that even though marijuana does technically lowers the eye pressure, its use could conceivably make the vision loss from glaucoma worse! For this reason, marijuana cannot be recommended without a long term clinical trial that evaluates the health of the optic nerve as well as the eye pressure.
Moreover, other side effects of marijuana such as the mood altering effects would prevent the patient who is using it from driving, operating heavy machinery, and functioning at maximum mental capacity.
Other methods of administering the active ingredient of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), include by mouth and under the tongue. This would avoid the harmful effect of marijuana smoke on the lungs. The use of eye drops containing THC or related compounds has been investigated, but it has not yet been possible to formulate an eye drop that is able to introduce the drug into the eye in sufficient concentration to be effective.
Therefore the conclusion is that although marijuana can lower the eye pressure, recommending this drug in any form for the treatment of glaucoma at the present time does not make sense given its side effects, short duration of action, and the lack of strong evidence that its use alters the course of glaucoma.
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