Treating Glaucoma With Marijuana
The optic nerve is the a cable carrying visual information from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve; the resulting damage can result in vision loss and even blindness. Essentially, glaucoma damages the optic nerve by creating higher than normal pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure or IOP). The only known way to treat glaucoma is to lower the IOP levels in the patient. This can be done with eye drops, or even surgery.
Since the 70s medicinal marijuana advocates have spoken in favor of treating glaucoma with marijuana. Although marijuana has been shown to lower the IOP levels in a patient; it has been proven to be ineffective. The IOP levels are lowered, but only for a matter of hours. To effectively treat glaucoma with marijuana, one would have to smoke every three to four hours.
Furthermore, not only does marijuana lower eye pressure; it lowers blood pressure. This could result in some reduced blood flow to the optic nerve, possibly damaging it. As we begin to understand more about the disease, we have come to realize that IOP levels are not the only damaging component in glaucoma. Even though marijuana does lower IOP levels It is not an effective treatment.