Medical Marijuana and Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a condition in the eye that can eventually end in blindness. Of the four million Americans estimated to have some form of glaucoma, as many as half of them are unaware of it.
According to the World Health organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. Among African Americans, that statistic jumps to number one.
Most people familiar with glaucoma know that the elderly are particularly susceptible to the condition, but anyone of any age can be affected without warning. Some research shows that glaucoma may be hereditary, but science is still unclear exactly what causes glaucoma to develop.
What has been found is, along with other medications, medical marijuana has greatly reduced the degeneration of vision brought on by glaucoma. Commonly, pressure in the eye is one of the causes of glaucoma. Medical marijuana is beneficial due to some of its chemicals reducing intraocular pressure, also known as IOP, by as much as twenty-five percent.
Some say it’s an insignificant gain when you compare the harmful side effects of marijuana, but that conclusion is somewhat biased and without true facts. While marijuana can cause an elevated heart risk to some elderly patients, most people report little to no side effects whatsoever with regular, medicinal use of marijuana. That’s a far cry from the pages of possible side effects and horror stories that accompany even the mildest of over the counter drugs.
Marijuana is not a magical cure-all in the treatment of glaucoma. There are – and should be – other medications and remedies, including drops that further reduce pressure in the eye by dilation and other means. Unfortunately, many of these methods can lose their effectiveness over time, and since there is currently no known cure for glaucoma, alternative treatment means are not only preferable, but necessary.
Scientists are hard at work attempting to create a delivery system for glaucoma patients that will allow them to reap the benefits of medical marijuana without the need to smoke it. Thus far, alternative delivery systems for medical marijuana have proven less successful than inhalation, or even ingesting the plant in small doses.
It is highly recommended that after the age of 40, routine eye checks are administered by a professional every other year. This will greatly decrease the odds of late stage glaucoma permanently affecting vision.