Over the years, we’ve discovered that medical marijuana can do some incredible things. Because of our body’s ability to take in cannabis-derived cannabinoids, the potential medicinal effects can be absolutely remarkable when consumed appropriately. For many, uncovering the relationship between medical marijuana and glaucoma, specifically, has been life-changing. 

Today, we’re taking a closer look into using medical cannabis for glaucoma. From understanding what glaucoma is to the potential risks and rewards, Elevate Holistics is discussing it all. With a topic as complicated as medical marijuana and glaucoma, the more information, the better. Let’s get started. 

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Medical Marijuana and Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma?

First thing’s first: what is glaucoma, and how is it caused? 

Glaucoma is an eye disease that attacks and damages your optic nerve. When this occurs, vision becomes severely affected, often resulting in blindness. In fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for those 60 and older. 

You can think of glaucoma similarly to a clogged drain. Our eyes retain fluid that slowly drains out when we need it to. However, those with glaucoma have clogged drains — their eyes are not releasing the liquid they should. With this, the fluid builds up behind the eye, creating immense pressure. Eventually, this pressure is what damages the optic nerve itself, potentially affecting your ability to see out of that eye (or both). 

There are two types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. The first type reflects what we mentioned above: the fluid behind the eye simply does not drain properly, and build-up occurs. Typically, if caught early, this will not cause permanent damage or blindness. 

Angle-closure glaucoma, however, is much more severe. This occurs when your iris gets too close to your eye’s drainage angle. If this angle becomes blocked up entirely, you will experience immense pressure. Angle-closure glaucoma is known to cause blindness if not treated in time. 

Common symptoms of this type of glaucoma are listed below. You must visit a doctor immediately if any of these symptoms occur: 

  • Severe headache
  • Eye pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Eye redness

Is Medical Marijuana an Effective Treatment for Glaucoma?

As unfortunate as this all sounds, there are ways to treat glaucoma. Of course, myriad medications exist on the market for this reason, but they often bring a slew of unwanted side effects. Because of this, many people are starting to ask, “Is medical marijuana an effective treatment for glaucoma?” 

Science is starting to say yes

Before we get into it, it’s essential to establish that the only medical condition that the FDA has approved medical marijuana treatment for is epilepsy. However, that does not mean that medical marijuana and glaucoma do not have a direct relationship. Instead, this just insinuates that scientists haven’t yet conducted enough substantial studies for the FDA to get on board. There is a strong indication that this will change in the near future, though. 

Keeping all of this mind, there is still strong evidence that medical marijuana for glaucoma offers remarkable therapeutic benefits. Right now, we cannot say that it is an effective treatment; but, with the support the cannabis community has seen thus far, it may be able to help in ways you never would’ve imagined. Let’s talk about how medical marijuana helps those with glaucoma. 

How Does Medical Marijuana Help Glaucoma?

When consumed or applied, medical marjuana does wonders for those with glaucoma. Like many traditional glaucoma medications, cannabis works to reduce the intraocular pressure that causes damage. With consistent use, this can significantly lower the percent of IOP in the eyes, allowing you to see without pain once again. 

How the cannabinoids actually work to lower this kind of pressure is something that is still being looked into today. With cannabis’s known anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, it isn’t surprising that cannabinoids can also help relieve this intense pressure. After all, your eyes have several cannabinoid receptors, making them quite susceptible to medical marijuana’s effects. 

Along with alleviating pressure, medical marijuana for glaucoma helps to reduce the other painful side effects that the condition may bring. For some, nausea and pain are quite strong with glaucoma, making the entire situation even more difficult to deal with. Thankfully, marijuana’s anti-nausea and pain-relieving properties tackle these issues at the source. Thus, not only is pressure reduced, but you’re able to feel better from head to toe, too. 

Using Medical Cannabis for Glaucoma 

The benefits that medical cannabis may bring for glaucoma can come from myriad methodologies. Some people choose to smoke cannabis flower while others consume a sublingual tincture and await results. However, one of the most popular and effective ways of treating your glaucoma with cannabis is marijuana eye drops.

Marijuana eye drops are a way of the future for cannabis consumers with glaucoma. When applied in this manner, the cannabinoids can reduce the pressure at the source, but the THC won’t cross through the blood-brain barrier. This means that, no matter how much THC is inside, you cannot get high. For many, turning to marijuana eye drops is incredibly appealing for accessibility, efficacy, and comfortability. 

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Should You Use Medical Marijuana for Glaucoma?

The Challenges and Risks

Unfortunately, like with any substance, there are some challenges and risks with turning to medical marijuana for glaucoma. For many, the biggest risk comes with THC levels. 

Many people do not want to get high when enjoying their medical products. However, THC is a crucial cannabinoid in lowering IOP levels. While products like marijuana eye drops do exist, they aren’t easy to come by or access. Thus, a lot of people are left consuming cannabis products that they may not be comfortable with.

Along with this, cannabis can often lower blood pressure, which, in turn, reduces the amount of blood flow to the optic nerve. This restriction paired with the IOP build-up can be extremely risky for medical patients, as it could create worsened damage to the optic nerve itself. 

Another challenge with using medical cannabis for glaucoma is the amount of cannabis you need to consume. Doctors report that cannabis use has to be consistent — several times a day, every day — in order for it to produce the effects that your eyes need. This consistent use is the best way to truly reduce the pressure behind the eyes; however, not everyone wants to consume cannabis this often. 

Overall, Should You Use Medical Marijuana for Glaucoma? 

If you’re pondering medical marijuana use for glaucoma, at the end of the day, the choice is yours. There are some risks that you have to take in order to enjoy this relationship, but, for many, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Overall, medical marijuana is completely natural and easy to consume. With the benefits it brings, it’s difficult not to want to try it. However, you just have to be well aware of any challenges or side effects that the plant might bring you. If you’re okay with this, then medical cannabis is definitely for you.

Interested in MMJ for glaucoma but don’t have your medical card yet? Not a problem. Here at Elevate Holistics, we specialize in helping out patients book telehealth MMJ appointments with qualified cannabis doctors. Don’t get intimidated by the word “telehealth,” either. Elevate’s process is simpler than any doctor’s visit you’ve had yet, and you don’t even have to leave your home. Truly, getting your medical marijuana card for glaucoma is a walk in the park with the help of Elevate.