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As we continue to learn more about the cannabis plant, more questions emerge regarding both the long-term and short-term effects of consumption. Recently, with more studies coming out involving marijuana and eyesight, people are beginning to wonder: does cannabis affect your vision? 

Cannabis and Night Vision

Before we get into the nitty-gritties behind cannabis and vision, it’s interesting to take a look into what history has said regarding night vision and our favorite green plant. 

In 1991, M.E West, a pharmacologist from the University of the West Indies, noticed that local fishermen who consumed cannabis could see better in the dark. This uncanny ability enabled them to navigate their boats through coral reefs.

After he accompanied a crew on a fishing trip one night, he wrote in his book, The Great Book of Hemp: “It was impossible to believe that anyone could navigate a boat without compass and without light in such treacherous surroundings, “[but] I was then convinced that the man who had taken the rum extract of cannabis had far better night vision than I had and that a subjective effect was not responsible.”

While it may have seemed implausible at first, modern research says otherwise. 

In 2016, a study backed up West’s observations with hard evidence. The study included researchers from prestigious institutions such as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the University of California, and McGill University, among others. 

These researchers found that the CB1 receptor protein, which binds to THC in cannabis, occurs in greater quantities in the eye. Thus, this may improve night vision by its effect on retinal cells. This study provides sure proof of the positive link between marijuana and vision. 

Cannabis and Glaucoma

Night vision isn’t the only sight-related factor that cannabis may positively influence, either.

Glaucoma is a degenerative eye condition that affects about 2.7 million Americans over 40. Without treatment, it can lead to cataracts, loss of vision, and even total blindness. Even more so, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide and affects about 60 million people.  

The optic nerve transports visual data to the brain, but when glaucoma sets in, it impairs this vital function. Glaucoma causes pressure to build up within the eye, a condition known as intraocular pressure. 

The optic nerve and surrounding tissues deteriorate with pressure buildup, leading to poor vision and blindness. 

According to one scholarly article, several clinical studies have shown that marijuana is as effective as conventional glaucoma medications at reducing intraocular pressure. 

In most trials, a single dose of marijuana decreased intraocular pressure for three to four hours. According to the article, “there is no question that marijuana-based medicines can be used to lower IOP.” 

However, the psychoactive properties of marijuana produce effects that some people can’t tolerate. Several study participants reported pounding or racing hearts and anxiety after taking cannabinoids. 

These effects pose a risk to people who may suffer cardiovascular disease and stroke. Another drawback is the short duration of the effect: consumers have to enjoy it several times a day. Unfortunately, some patients may be unlikely to be disciplined with their medicine. 

On that note, CBD products or other non-psychoactive cannabinoids may be suitable for helping those with glaucoma symptoms who don’t want to feel high. 

LEARN MORE: Medical Marijuana and Glaucoma | Qualifying Medical Conditions for MMJ

Neuroprotective Effects of Cannabis

According to one study published in 2014, cannabis has a proven neuroprotective function and may slow down retinal degeneration. 

The synthetic cannabinoid HU210 appeared to preserve the cone and rod structures in the eyes of rats; these structures are responsible for visualizing colors and shapes. 

The experiment was modeled to study the effects of cannabis on retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a human disease that causes vision loss by killing cells in the retina. 

After 90 days, the rats treated with HU210 performed better on vision tests than the control group and acquired 40% more photoreceptors. The study’s results were not surprising, given that research has linked cannabis with symptomatic relief in other degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes. 

The study concluded that “…cannabinoids are potentially useful to delay retinal degeneration in RP patients.” 

Cannabis And Vision: Consumers’ Perspective

One persistent myth is that cannabis is linked to vision loss. But, what if you ask cannabis consumers themselves, “does cannabis affect your vision?” 

Over 31 years, spanning 1979 to 2010, 12,686 young men and women were studied. Researchers compared 1304 heavy marijuana users to 1304 respondents who reported low or no marijuana use. The result? 

The respondents who were not heavy consumers didn’t fare better than the heavy users; there was no significant difference in their vision. 

Over those 31 years, cannabis did not affect the eyesight of heavy users. This is a significant study on the links between marijuana and vision because it covers a very long timeframe. 

The Bottomline of Cannabis and Vision

Myths and misconceptions about cannabis and vision abound, but every story has two sides. Most of the stigma and negative attitude towards cannabis comes from a bygone era when cannabis was perceived in a bad light. 

Like all active substances, cannabis has effects on the body. And, while not all of them are positive, tons of research and data support the therapeutic effects of cannabis. However, detractors pick the negative ones and broadcast them. 

While more research it’s always better, it’s safe to say that you don’t have to worry too much about cannabis affecting your eyesight. So, if you have 20/20 vision, chances are, your cannabis consumption isn’t going to make that worse. 

Stay Informed With Elevate Holistics

There’s still a lot of research on the effects of cannabis, and there’s a lot we still don’t know. However, at Elevate Holistics, we have the most up-to-date information on all things cannabis. Just as we’ve enlightened you on the relationship between cannabis and vision, there’s more we could tell you.

You’ll need lots of information to help you make informed choices on your cannabis journey. Luckily, we’ve got all that you’ll need

In addition, we provide the essential services you need to access marijuana–getting your MMJ card, finding a qualified physician, or locating a licensed dispensary.

Click here to book an appointment and get your MMJ card 100% online, 100% hassle-free.

Patient Resources:

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Elevate Holistics’ process is quick, affordable, and done entirely online. It’s never been so easy.

About the author

Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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