Glaucoma is a medical condition where the optic nerve that carries signals from the eye to the brain is damaged. If left untreated, it can cause blindness. Pressure builds inside the eye, which is called intraocular pressure. This is caused by an abnormal amount of fluid being made by the ciliary body, which is in the aqueous humor or front portion of the eye.
Understanding The Two Types of Glaucoma
There are two types of glaucoma, primary open-angle, and acute angle-closure. With open-angle, a person experiences a loss of their peripheral vision in both eyes. In advanced stages, tunnel vision is common. With acute angle-closure, there is eye pain, nausea and vomiting, visual disturbances, halos around lights, and the eye becomes red. Unfortunately, many people don’t show any signs of glaucoma until the damage has already been done. Having an annual eye examination is imperative to catch conditions such as this.
Can Cannabinoid Therapies Help?
There have been many studies conducted that have proved that cannabis can ease the pain, nausea, and vomiting associated with glaucoma. Unfortunately, not all patients with glaucoma will have a decrease in their symptoms, and standard healthcare practices are the recommended first-line of treatment. The symptoms that one experiences with this condition comes from the intense amount of pressure inside the eye, which causes permanent damage to the optic nerve. Thus, reducing the intra-ocular pressure is better than controlling the symptoms alone. The potential benefits of cannabis, though, cannot be denied.
In 1979, the International Journal of Pharmacology and Biopharmacology posted a study that was conducted using 16 participants. These patients had open-angle glaucoma, and 8 of them had high blood pressure too. When the participants inhaled cannabis that had a THC of 2.8 percent, their heart rates increased. However, their blood pressure and intraocular pressure decreased. Their effects lasted longer in the patients that had high blood pressure than those who had normal ranges. According to the study, the effects lasted for about four hours.
Another study was conducted in the year 2000. This one was done on animals. The Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology found that using a topical administration of HU-211, which is a synthetic cannabinoid derivative, was able to also decrease intraocular pressure. The effect only lasted for about four hours, but no potential side effects were noted. Using synthetic cannabinoids may also be useful in treating patients with glaucoma. This negates the potentially harmful side effects that come from using the whole plant. No psychoactive or euphoric type symptoms were displayed. This means that people can go about their day without having downtime from their treatment.
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It is clear that cannabis may help to relieve the intraocular pressure that one feels with glaucoma. Other remedies may have fewer side effects and should be explored initially, However, the negative side effects that come from standard therapies cannot be ignored. Whole plant cannabis is a great alternative option for managing high intra-ocular pressure. It should be monitored closely in patients that have heart issues as it decreases the blood pressure. Use of this alternative medicine should be monitored by a healthcare professional.