the truth about marijuana and glaucoma

there is a lot of focus in the u.s. and around the world on the potentially helpful aspects of using marijuana in medicine. much of the research is promising, although there are risks and unknowns when it comes to medical marijuana.

one specific area where there’s attention is on marijuana and glaucoma.

so, does marijuana help glaucoma? below is more information on this condition, and also specifics on marijuana and glaucoma and their potential relationship to one another.

what is glaucoma?

before looking at the particulars of marijuana and glaucoma and answering “does marijuana help glaucoma,” what is this condition?

glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve and can ultimately lead to loss of vision and blindness. in most people, glaucoma affects both eyes, although some people may experience the condition being worse in one eye. there are two primary categories of glaucoma. the first is open-angle and the second is closed-angle.

with closed-angle glaucoma, the person will usually have relatively sudden pain and vision loss, but since there is a lot of pain with this type, the person usually gets medical treatment quickly so it can help prevent permanent damage.

with primary open-angle glaucoma, also often called chronic glaucoma, there is a slow progression, and many symptoms aren’t noticed including minimal vision loss. because of how slowly this progresses people often don’t get treatment for the condition until there’s already permanent damage.

one of the primary reasons people feel pain when they have glaucoma is because of the high levels of pressure in the eye.

the goal of most treatments for glaucoma is to improve how fluid flows from the eye, to reduce the production of fluid or a combination of both.

the first treatments usually given for glaucoma are eye drops, but they can have unpleasant side effects such as rarely retinal detachment or breathing problems. there are also surgery options if medicines don’t work and they can include surgery to unblock drainage canals, filtering surgery to open eye channels and drainage implants.

so, does marijuana help glaucoma?

marijuana and glaucoma

a lot of people wonder does marijuana help glaucoma?

medical marijuana has been linked to glaucoma for decades, and there were studies that showed that marijuana could help reduce the intraocular pressure people with glaucoma experience. with that being said, research showed that marijuana could only temporarily reduce the eye pressure of glaucoma. in fact, most research shows that with marijuana and glaucoma, the effects of the marijuana last only a few hours, and this is one of the biggest reasons marijuana might not be the best treatment for glaucoma.

glaucoma needs around-the-clock treatment, so it would require that someone use marijuana throughout the day to really get the benefits.

of course, with this comes the consideration that marijuana can alter your behavior and perception, and there are side effects that come with its use.

another reason a lot of researchers are rethinking the conventional wisdom about the relationship between marijuana and glaucoma is because there is some evidence coming to light that glaucoma may also be a neurological disease that comes from a reduced level of blood flow to the optic nerve. marijuana lowers blood pressure, which can result in even less blood flow to the optic nerve.

with marijuana and glaucoma, it’s not seen as an ideal treatment for early-stage patients.

however, even with that being said, with late-stage glaucoma, marijuana is often more encouraged as a treatment. the reason is because during late stage glaucoma the objective isn’t necessarily to treat it because the long-term damage has likely already been done. instead, marijuana may be used to help treat the accompanying symptoms and discomfort. for example, marijuana could help with the pain and nausea that can be associated with late-stage glaucoma.

there is likely to be continuing research on marijuana and glaucoma, because of the role cannabinoid receptors play in ocular tissue. it may be that in the future researchers are able to develop cannabis-based medicines that are more effective in helping with earlier stage glaucoma.

summing up—does marijuana help glaucoma?

so, does marijuana help glaucoma? as it stands right now, marijuana isn’t the preferred treatment for glaucoma, particularly when it’s in its early stages. first, with marijuana and glaucoma the effects are very short-lived, so they’re not very practical. also, there are risks and side effects that can come with the use of marijuana.

right now with marijuana and glaucoma doctors are more likely to recommend it when glaucoma has reached later stages, and the marijuana can be used as a way to help the patient cope with the side effects.

that doesn’t mean there isn’t a future for marijuana and glaucoma, especially as researchers are looking at cannabinoid-based medicines that could have positive future implications.

Nutrition and Eye Health

Research suggests that antioxidants and other important nutrients may reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Specific antioxidants can have additional benefits as well; for example, vitamin A protects against blindness, and vitamin C may play a role in preventing or alleviating glaucoma.

The following vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been shown to be essential for good vision and may protect your eyes from sight-robbing conditions and diseases.

Beta-Carotene
Beta-Carotene rich foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and butternut squash when taken in combination with zinc and vitamins C and E, may reduce the progression of macular degeneration.

Bioflavonoids (Flavonoids)
To help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, eat a diet rich in bioflavonoids, which comes from tea, red wine, citrus fruits, bilberries, blueberries, cherries, legumes, and soy products.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Eating plenty of spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and squash may prevent cataracts and macular degeneration because they are rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, freshly ground flaxseeds, and walnuts may help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eyes.

Vitamin A
Foods such as beef or chicken liver, eggs, butter, and milk contain vitamin A and may protect against night blindness and dry eyes.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C rich foods like sweet peppers (red or green), kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe, may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Vitamin D
Foods high in vitamin D such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and milk may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun stimulates production of vitamin D in human skin, and just a few minutes of exposure to sunlight each day will insure your body is producing adequate amounts of vitamin D.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E rich foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts may reduce the risk of advanced AMD.

Zinc
Zinc rich foods such as oysters, beef, Dungeness crab, turkey (dark meat) may play a role in reducing risk of advanced AMD and reduce the risk of night blindness.

In general, it’s best to obtain most nutrients through a healthy diet, including at least two servings of fish per week and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.

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