Many of our customers ask about the benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) and the relief it has shown to provide to patients with various health conditions. One of the conditions we’re most often asked about is glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions caused by abnormally high eye pressure that can lead optical nerve damage. If not treated properly, glaucoma can lead to blindness in some individuals. It has been reported that nearly three million individuals suffer from glaucoma, making it one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness.
Medical advancements for treatment, including surgical procedures, for eye conditions have improved significantly in recent years but individuals continue to seek alternative forms of treatment whether it be holistic options, dietary changes or additions of supplements.
The use of cannabis for medical treatment has vastly expanded in recent years, now 35 states having medical marijuana programs for patients with certain medical conditions. Nearly all medical marijuana legislation lists glaucoma as a condition that qualifies individuals access to a medical marijuana card. Since cannabis includes at least 120 different cannabinoids the question arises, should patients be seeking out CBD, THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) or other cannabinoids to relieve symptoms of glaucoma? Will CBD help minimize blurry vision? Does cannabis and the introduction of cannabinoids help treat glaucoma?
Does CBD Lower Intraocular Pressure?
The naturally occurring endocannabinoid system found in all humans (and our furry canine friends) is a biological system made up of neurotransmitters and receptors found throughout the central nervous system. Prior research demonstrated that the administrations of cannabinoids can lower intraocular eye pressure, however, this was only for administration of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Researchers actually found that administration of 20 milligrams of CBD did not decrease intraocular eye pressure and administration of 40 milligrams of CBD increased intraocular eye pressure. This would suggest that CBD is not a suitable treatment for glaucoma and could actually do more harm that good.
Does THC Lower Intraocular Pressure?
But what about THC, or delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol? Does THC show efficacy in lowering intraocular eye pressure? The short answer is yes. Research has demonstrated that administering THC does lower intraocular eye pressure, however, patients with glaucoma require 24 hour pressure remediation to protect eyes from damage to the optic nerve.
Thus, THC provides only short term relief for intraocular eye pressure and suggests why the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Glaucoma Society do not recommend THC as a treatment for glaucoma. The risks far outweigh the benefits of using THC for glaucoma treatment as patients would be required to administer THC several times throughout the day, each day, to reduce intraocular eye pressure.
Not only does this present health concerns but would also not be financially justifiable for patients. Since THC is psychoactive, patients consistently administering THC would not be able to take on everyday activities, such as driving a motor vehicle.