Dr. Ben's Blog

No Marijuana For Glaucoma Any Time Soon

Ok, so we’ve all heard the anec­do­tal tales of the guy who gets to smoke mar­i­jua­na to treat his glau­co­ma, but is there any truth to this wives tale? The answer is a resound­ing “sort of, but not real­ly”. The sto­ry goes like this: some­one some­where fig­ured out that some­thing in hemp low­ers intraoc­u­lar (eye) pres­sure. So, a series of stud­ies were ini­ti­at­ed. The results were con­clu­sive that a chem­i­cal found in mar­i­jua­na does, indeed low­er eye pres­sure. Great, right? Not so much. The chem­i­cal was iso­lat­ed into a drop form (you don’t smoke it). As well, it showed a mod­est eye pres­sure reduc­tion when tak­en every 3 hours or so and had a some­what exten­sive side effect pro­file. The drops we use as first line ther­a­py for glau­co­ma cur­rent­ly only have to be tak­en at night and have essen­tial­ly no com­mon­ly occur­ring sys­temic side effects. Oh yeah, and they’re a lot cheap­er. As for using med­i­c­i­nal mar­i­jua­na in a res­pi­ra­to­ry (smok­ing) form, there is good evi­dence that this may low­er blood flow to the optic nerves and, in turn, make glau­co­ma worse, while not low­er­ing eye pres­sure all that much. Oh year, and side effects include altered men­tal sta­tus, hor­mon­al changes, and var­i­ous types of can­cer. So, sad­ly for some, you can con­sid­er this myth debunked, ya hip­pie!

Posted in Dr. Ben's Blog, Eye Health