Marijuana to Treat Glaucoma

Marijuana’s popularity skyrocketed in the mid-1970s, when researchers began investigating the potential of cannabinoids to lower intraocular pressure (IOP). As a result of its pleasurable effects, its use has expanded, and ophthalmologist Theresa M. Cooney, M.D., from Michigan Medicine, claims that it is the fourth most commonly used drug in the world, behind cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine.

In November 2008, Michigan residents went to the polls and approved the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), which exempts patients diagnosed with certain medicinal illnesses from criminal prosecution for their lawful medical marijuana use. The use of marijuana for recreational purposes has also just been authorized in Michigan.

Some glaucoma patients are now using medicinal marijuana, which is now legal in 23 states (including Michigan) rather of traditional treatments. Does marijuana help, though? This question, according to Cooney, has a convoluted solution.

Without proper diagnosis and treatment, glaucoma may lead to permanent, irreversible vision loss and is the second largest cause of blindness in the United States (first for African Americans in the United States).

Disabling medical issue
“treating or reducing pain, nausea, and other symptoms linked with a number of severe medical diseases,” as the MMA puts it, includes the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes if the patient suffers from any of the following:

  • Waning syndrome (also known as cachexia)
  • Extreme and persistent suffering
  • extreme queasiness
  • Seizures
  • Experiencing severe and chronic muscular spasms

According to Cooney, only closed-angle glaucoma produces symptoms that qualify it as a “debilitating medical illness.” Glaucoma might manifest in one of three ways:

  • Open-angle glaucoma, also known as chronic glaucoma
  • Acute (or closed-angle) glaucoma
  • Recurrent glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is a slow or non-progressive illness that may be treated with medication or surgery, although it causes little discomfort and only mild visual disturbances. FDA-approved glaucoma eye drops have been shown to be effective in the long run if used as directed.

The medical ailment known as closed-angle glaucoma often only lasts for a few days and has a rapid start time. Increased pressure within the eye may be painful and make you sick. A debilitating medical disease, as defined by the MMA, requires ongoing presence of symptoms despite successful pharmacological therapy.

An identified cause of elevated intraocular pressure that ultimately damages the optic nerve and causes vision loss is considered to be a case of secondary glaucoma. There are two types of glaucoma, closed-angle and open-angle.

Cannabis medicine vs conventional care
Medical therapy for glaucoma includes a number of different medication types that have shown promise. New glaucoma drops have been demonstrated to be effective for up to eight hours.

Photograph of a Medical Professional
To get the same impact as conventional glaucoma drops from a pack of smokes, you would need to smoke eight to ten marijuana cigarettes per day.
In addition to medicine, patients also have surgical alternatives, such as the implantation of a Xen gel stent, a tiny tube placed in the eye to maintain vision, or the trabeculectomy, in which a little portion of tissue is removed from the eye to create a drainage hole.

To paraphrase Cooney, “we don’t know how marijuana interacts with standard therapeutic procedures because there aren’t trials addressing it yet.”

She further notes that it is well-known that the negative effects of these conventional medical treatments are far less severe than those of high-dose marijuana use.

Furthermore, not all marijuana has the same effects, and the fact that it is not FDA-approved raises severe health concerns.

Basically anything, according to Cooney, who claims that marijuana can be laced with anything. Over the course of the process, more than 400 distinct compounds are used, with varying degrees of preparation potency.

As a result of its high misuse potential and questionable safety profile, federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I prohibited substance and places it in the strictest category of drug regulation, even for therapeutic purposes. It is not recommended as a replacement for tried-and-true medical care.