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Glaucoma and Medical Marijuana

Patients in Pennsylvania can now legally obtain medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma. The idea that marijuana can be helpful in treating glaucoma dates to the 1970s. Studies conducted then showed that smoking marijuana lowered the IOP of people with glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, the cable that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve from glaucoma can result in vision loss and blindness.

Treatment for Glaucoma

Treatments that lower the pressure in the eye lower the risk of developing the optic nerve damage that defines glaucoma, as well as the risk of pre-existing damage getting worse.

Despite the treatments available for lowering eye pressure, such as eye drop medication, laser treatment, and operating room surgery, there are some individuals for whom these treatments either do not sufficiently lower the eye pressure, or cause adverse side effects. In these situations, both glaucoma patient and physician look for alternative therapies.

Cannabis is an alternative therapy that has gained popularity following the legalization of marijuana. Twenty-four states, plus Washington, DC, have enacted laws that allow the use of medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.


Medical Marijuana for Glaucoma Therapy

Glaucoma Today

Cannabinoids and glaucoma

National Institutes of Health

Effect of Sublingual Application of Cannabinoids on Intraocular Pressure: A Pilot Study

Journal of Galucoma

Effect of marijuana on intraocular and blood pressure in glaucoma

Journal of Ophthamalogy

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