Cannabis and Glaucoma

Liz Filmer
01 Mar 2024

Glaucomas are eye conditions that are identifiable by progressive damage to the optic nerve, which is often linked to increased intraocular pressure (IOP), leading to irreversible vision loss. Glaucoma typically develops gradually, and vision loss may go unnoticed for an extended period. Regular eye tests, including measuring pressure along with peripheral vision testing, are essential measures for at-risk people. 

Glaucoma affects nearly 64 million worldwide, making it the second most common cause of blindness in the world. Glaucoma is specifically predominant among those over 60, with only 50% of those affected being aware of it.

Anti-glaucoma treatments traditionally concentrate on reducing IOP. When pharmaceutical interventions do not work, there are surgical options but they are not without potential complications.

Cannabis and Glaucoma

The first reported use of cannabis to lower IOP dates back to 1971. In 1971 glaucoma patient Robert C. Randall discovered that smoking cannabis eased his symptoms. Despite the legal issues deriving from growing his cannabis at home, Randall submitted evidence in court that led to the discharge of criminal charges in 1976. Randall became the first legal medical cannabis user. Cannabis is effective in treating Glaucoma as cannabinoids lower IOP by reacting with CB1 receptors,

Clinical studies show that THC especially can slow glaucoma progression and shows favourable results when used orally, intravenously, or via inhalation.THC can reduce IOP greatly for roughly three to four hours. However, the short period of action and possible side effects mean that their use is limited.

Other potentially useful cannabinoids include:
Cannabigerol (CBG) reduces IOP without notable toxicity;
Palmitoylethanolamine (PEA), administered orally, is effective in reducing IOP and intraocular vasodilation without any noteworthy side effects.

There is some controversy encircling the use of cannabinoids in treating glaucoma, due to a lack of definitive proof, the lack of any randomised controlled trials and the largely dated character of the quoted manuscripts from the 1970s-1980s.

Despite discussions on the scientific proof encompassing cannabis and glaucoma, the clinical procedure makes for a compelling picture. The restorative effectiveness of cannabinoids, especially in cases invulnerable to conventional therapies, makes them an invaluable alternative. The tale of cannabis and glaucoma traverses decades and the research is still ongoing.

More on this topic from Soft Secrets:

Types of Medical Cannabis

Liz Filmer