Medical marijuana has been promoted as a controversial but effective option in the treatment
of certain diseases such as Glaucoma. In the past, the ability to use medicinal marijuana required the issuance of a prescription by a medical
doctor, however now we find many states have already legalized the possession of marijuana thereby discounting the need to consult a doctor.
This article will focus on and explore whether marijuana does provide beneficial results in the treatment of glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
According to Contact Lens King, glaucoma is a disorder of the eye that has the potential of
causing serious damage to the optic nerve. Such damage could directly impact a person's vision and may lead to partial, or even complete
blindness if left untreated. The main culprit in the development of this disease is eye pressure, more specifically referred to as intraocular
pressure (IOP). This term refers to the pressure within the anterior chamber of the eye wherein the drainage of aqueous liquid is not occurring
normally and build up of fluid occurs. This build up of fluid gradually leads to high intraocular pressure which can possibly result in damaging
the eye. However, it is important to note that a quick diagnosis can lead to effective treatments such as eye drops, laser trabeculoplasty and/or surgery.
What is "Medical" Marijuana?
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, medical marijuana refers to the marijuana produced
from unprocessed marijuana plants or its extracts for the ultimate use in the treatment of certain illnesses. In studying the active molecules
in marijuana researchers have focused their interest in two such molecules called cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are THC and CBD. THC or
tetrahydrocannabinol is marijuana's primary mind altering molecule while CBD or cannabidiol has therapeutic value without any effect on the mind.
Both of these molecules can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Recent studies have also shown that marijuana extracts have successfully helped in
reducing the size of certain cancer cells and possibly killing other types completely.
Medical Marijuana Research
The Glaucoma Research Foundation states that marijuana can be used as a form of treatment for glaucoma. It has been proven that smoking marijuana
helps lower blood pressure, which is one of the contributing causes behind pressure build up within the eye. However, the problem with using marijuana
to lower blood pressure is the short-term effects of the active molecules, which only last for approximately 3-4 hours. This fact represents a challenge
in making medical marijuana a sustainable long-term treatment solution. In the specific case of glaucoma, not enough research has been developed in
studying marijuana's overall long term impact on the optic nerve specifically. Detailed research requires investigating how lowering a person's overall blood
pressure affects the blood supply to the optic nerve. The concern is that lower overall blood pressure could potentially exacerbate the effects of
So does marijuana help treat glaucoma? Well, for the moment this question does not seem to have a definitive or conclusive answer. However we do
know that the active molecules in marijuana might present a credible and effective short term alternative solution in treating the disease just not an efficient one, requiring more research.
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