Major health organizations should not be afraid to come out and say what science knows to be true—namely that medical marijuana brings health benefits to some users who are in pain. One of the most painful conditions is that of glaucoma, increased pressure within the eyeball, which can also lead to blindness. The National Eye Institute gave their opinion on the matter in no uncertain terms in 1978.
Proof of Glaucoma Relief
“Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.” The National Eye Institute was among the first institutions to support medicinal studies of THC in the late 1970s. However, because of the abundance of FDA-approved products already on the market, the Institute eventually gave up the effort.
Lower IOP Studies
By the decade of the 2000s, many medical authorities started to reevaluate their positions. The Mayo Clinic stated that while the mechanism isn’t exactly known, cannabis does lower IOP (Lower Intraocular Pressure) and may interact with CB1 receptors in the eyes. They also stated that other “safe” glaucoma treatments can “lose their effectiveness over time.”
The major criticism of medical marijuana for eye pain thus far has been the so-called mind-altering side effects, which according to some studies, involves an increased heart rate and lower blood pressure. This is of particular importance to seniors, who have an increased risk of developing glaucoma problems because of their age, and yet cannot tolerate the increased heart rate associated with high doses of cannabis smoking.
Therefore, the next breakthrough in glaucoma treatment—since efficacy is without question—will be in finding a way to administer cannabinoids directly on a person’s eyes. This would avoid any mind-altering side effects and focus on relieving pressure on the eyes with high doses. With more states legalizing it for medicinal use, that breakthrough may not be too far away.