Glaucoma is a very common condition that can eventually lead to blindness. Cannabis is a plant with many remarkable properties, which in recent years has been demonstrated to offer great potential health benefits. This includes our eye health, regardless of the red eyes typically associated with consumption of marijuana. In fact, the very vasodilatory properties of cannabis are precisely what could help relieve glaucoma symptoms, as this blog explains in detail.
How Cannabis Affects The Eye
Anyone who has ever tried weed has either noticed or had other people point out how it can turn the white of the eyes red. This is caused by its key ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which decreases blood pressure throughout the body. In the eyes, this pressure drop improves blood flow, which causes the blood vessels to widen in a process known as vasodilation. Obviously, though, cannabis has many other effects; used both for recreational purposes and against insomnia, inflammation, chronic pain, lack of appetite, and more.
The many compounds found in cannabis (the so-called cannabinoids such as THC and CBD) work by influencing an essential communications network that spans the bodies of all vertebrates. This system is know as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoids interact with the ECS by contacting cannabinoid receptors lining the outer cell membranes. This ability allows compounds like THC and CBD to regulate multiple important physiological systems.
The cells found in our eyes have receptors too, with a particular prevalence of CB1 cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are also found throughout the brain, particularly in the areas responsible for processing visual stimuli. Preclinical trials have demonstrated that that the ECS is also closely involved in eyesight. A 2016 primate study sought to improve our grasp of the underlying mechanisms.
It appears that manipulation of cannabinoid receptors changes the way in which electrical signals travel along the retina. Using electroretinogram measurements, researchers found that cannabinoid receptors affect the way the eye responds to light.
Apparently, cannabis affects our eyesight. Although further studies are needed to clarify the precise effects, preliminary research has demonstrated the potential relief that cannabis can bring for glaucoma patients. This is yet another impressive addition to the expanding list of medicinal marijuana applications.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a remarkably prevalent eye condition that affects about 1 to 1.5% of all Dutch people over 40. Glaucoma is a degenerative condition that worsens over time. It is caused by damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for our vision by relaying neural impulses from the retina to the visual cortex of the brain. Glaucoma can be caused by increased pressure inside the eyeball, but other factors can play a part, too.
Damage to the optic nerve leads to visual impairment and causes blind spots, either acutely or gradually. Although glaucoma is painless, it can eventually lead to blindness. Fortunately, cannabis may reduce some of the symptoms of glaucoma, or sow down the condition’s progression.
Studying Cannabis Against Glaucoma
Sadly, there is no cure for this serious condition as of yet. Certain prescription drugs can offer relief in some cases, however, and surgery can prove effective as well. It seems, however, as if cannabis has properties that can also be effective in terms of glaucoma treatment.
Lowering Eye Pressure
Excessive pressure within the eyeball is one of the potential causes of glaucoma. High eyeball pressure can cause pain in addition to damaging the eyeball. The potential of cannabis for lowering inner eye pressure has been studied since the nineteen seventies.
One of these studies was published in the Journal of the American medical Association. THC found in cannabis indeed proves capable of significantly lowering eye pressure by 25% in 60 to 65% of all consumers. Other studies have shown that people affected b combinations of glaucoma and high blood pressure are most likely to benefit from the use of cannabis.
One drawback of cannabis use for glaucoma treatment is its temporary effectiveness, which lasts up to three to four hours after consumption. Glaucoma treatment requires constant regulation of eye pressure to prevent it from returning to its previous heightened state. Sadly, most people are unable to use cannabis continuously for 24 hours a day, no matter how much some would like to.
Of course, a permanent cannabis high can also have negative consequences for anyone who has work or studies waiting. Cannabis microdosing could be an alternative, although the question remains whether such low doses would suffice for treating glaucoma. Another option would be choosing a high THC strain and combining it with CBD cannabis seeds or CBD Oil if you wish to temper the psychoactive effects of THC.
Protective Properties Of Cannabis
Glaucoma involves the gradual dying-off of optic nerve cells. THC and CBD have been know to offer neuroprotective potential for some time since they can act as antioxidants. The British Journal of Ophthalmology has published studies demonstrating these qualities.
These studies showed that in addition to protecting cells, CBD and THC can also prevent accumulation of toxins such as glutamic acid, which can kill nerve cells. In case of glaucoma, this could help cannabis compounds delay progression of the condition.
Using Cannabis Against Glaucoma
Sadly, glaucoma is still an incurable condition, and cannabis is not an officially acknowledged medicine. However, cannabis could help relieve some of the symptoms associated with glaucoma, as well as delay the progression of the disease. If you have glaucoma and you are considering trying cannabis for treatment, finding specific advice on how to proceed is difficult. As we have seen, using cannabis multiple times every day may bring relief for glaucoma symptoms, but it can also produce unwanted side-effects.
Since THC seems particularly effective in treating glaucoma, a high-THC cannabis strain like Fatkid’s Cake seems the obvious choice. On the other hand, a strain with lower THC percentages and higher CBD content could be a good option for curbing the high. The same goes for cannabidiol supplements: CBD Oil or CBD Tablets can do the same. Be sure to consult your doctor if you decide to try cannabis for your glaucoma; especially if you’re using specific types of medication.
Anyone attempting to grow cannabis themselves, whether for glaucoma or for other medicinal purposes, should always ensure that they use high quality cannabis seeds to do so. These are the best guarantee for consistency in cannabinoid and terpene profiles. On top of this, finding the best matching cannabis strain is crucial; both in terms of personal preferences and with regard to the symptoms concerned.
Be sure to read our Grow Blogs to grow seeds using the best techniques for your premium genetics. They tell you all you need to know in order to harvest prime quality cannabis for any purpose, including conditions such as glaucoma.