Should You Smoke Marijuana to Treat Your Glaucoma?
Although marijuana can lower eye pressure, please consider its side effects, short duration of action, and lack of evidence that its use alters the course of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, the cable that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve from glaucoma can result in vision loss and blindness.
Treatments that lower the pressure in the eye both lower the risk of developing the optic nerve damage that defines glaucoma, and the risk of pre-existing damage getting worse.
Despite the treatments available for lowering eye pressure, such as eye drop medication, laser treatment, and operating room surgery, there are some individuals for whom these treatments either do not sufficiently lower the eye pressure, or cause unacceptable side effects. In these situations, both glaucoma patient and physician look for alternative therapies.
Marijuana as a Treatment Alternative
One of the commonly discussed alternatives for the treatment of glaucoma is the smoking of marijuana, because smoking marijuana does lower the eye pressure. Less often appreciated is the fact that marijuana’s effect on 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.
Furthermore, marijuana’s mood-altering effects prevent the patient who is using it from driving, operating heavy machinery, and functioning at maximum mental capacity. Marijuana cigarettes also contain hundreds of compounds that damage the lungs, and the chronic, frequent use of marijuana can damage the brain.
Read more from the Glaucoma Research Foundation
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month
Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States. Glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms in its early stages, and vision loss progresses at such a gradual rate that people affected by the condition are often unaware of it until their sight has already been compromised. During Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, the American Academy of Ophthalmology advises the public that the best defense against developing glaucoma-related blindness is by having routine, comprehensive eye exams.
Click the arrow below to watch video, “What Is Glaucoma?”
What Happens if You Have Glaucoma?
With open-angle glaucoma (the most common form of glaucoma), there are no warning signs or obvious symptoms in the early stages.
As the disease progresses, blind spots develop in your peripheral (side) vision, shown at right.
Most people with open-angle glaucoma do not notice any change in their vision until the damage is quite severe. This is why glaucoma is called the “silent thief of sight.” Having regular eye exams can help your Bedminster Eye & Laser Center eye doctor detect this disease before you lose vision. Your eye doctor can tell you how often you should be examined.
Who Is at Risk for Glaucoma?
Some people have a higher than normal risk of getting glaucoma. This includes people who:
- are over age 40
- have family members with glaucoma
- are of African, Hispanic, or Asian heritage
- have high eye pressure
- are farsighted or nearsighted
- have had an eye injury
- use long-term steroid medications
- have corneas that are thin in the center
- have thinning of the optic nerve
- have diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, poor blood circulation or other health problems affecting the whole body
Talk with your Bedminster Eye & Laser Center eye doctor about your risk for getting glaucoma. People with more than one of these risk factors have an even higher risk of glaucoma.
Learn more from the American Academy of Ophthalmology
What Are You Reading These Days
We’ve noticed that many of our patients enjoy reading a good book. We’re collecting recommendations for a “good read,” and we will be sharing them every month in our newsletter.
At right is just one reading recommendation for January 2023
Have a reading recommendation? Email it to our Newsletter Editor.
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