Heard of cannabis on the news lately? Of course you have. With its legalization scheduled in Canada by next summer, it has left many with unanswered questions. It certainly is a touchy topic for many. Is it safe? Where should shops be located? What will be the effects on our society? Marijuana has also been a topic in the medical field as many wonder if this plant can be used for more than just recreational pleasure. This week’s article will explore whether or not cannabis can be used for glaucoma treatment.
“Glaucoma results from damage to the optoc nerve…”
Glaucoma is a common disease in Canada. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada. Glaucoma results from damage to the optic nerve usually due to increased pressure within the eye. The optic nerve is vital in allowing us to see. It is like the film used in viewing movies at a theater. Just like the film, which transmits a movie onto a big screen, the optic nerve transmits data to the brain. This allows the information from the eye to be interpreted.
Eye pressure must be brought down in cases of glaucoma patients to prevent eye damage. This is usually achieved through eye drops, laser eye surgery, or surgery. However, there have been suggestions that marijuana can be used to treat glaucoma by reducing eye pressure. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states in its article on Studies Look at Effects of Marijuana on Vision:
“Some studies on glaucoma and marijuana have found that when marijuana is smoked or when a form of its active ingredient is taken as a pill or by injection, it does lower pressure in the eye, or intraocular pressure.”
However, the article also states that any positive effects are short lasting. This is a huge drawback when looking at cannabis as an effective treatment method. Patients would need to use marijuana many times in one day to achieve results. Furthermore, there is a whole host of negative side effects that come with smoking marijuana. Including damage to the lungs and brain. As well as one’s ability to function. For example, someone who is required to operate heavy machinery, or make life-altering decisions like a heart surgeon would be unable to use this method as it would affect their ability to do their jobs.
The Take-Away On Cannabis
The use of this plant as a means to treat glaucoma has not been studied in detail long enough and so the long-term effects are not fully known. Prescribing marijuana to glaucoma patients is therefore not an option. At least not at this time. However, with the planned legalization of this industry. The idea of using cannabis for medicinal purposes will increase. It is already used by many for this purpose.
Cannabis holds some important properties that can help protect retinal cells. The ability to create a cannabis concoction that helps treat glaucoma specifically in the future may become a viable option for some patients.
The Best Defense Is Being Proactive
When it comes to glaucoma, there are no pre-emptive measures that can be taken. Identifying it early is key. So remember to not miss your regular eye exam, as your internal eye pressure will be assessed for normalcy by your family eye doctor! The health of your optic nerve will also be examined. An eye exam can sometimes be the only opportunity to catch it! Identifying glaucoma earlier than later allows for better effective treatment.