January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. AAHPO President and ophthalmologist Lawrence V. Najarian, MD is sharing this article from the Glaucoma Research Foundation, which notes: “Although marijuana can lower eye pressure, please consider its side effects, short duration of action, and lack of evidence that its use alters the course of 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. Treatments that lower the pressure in the eye both lower the risk of developing the optic nerve damage that defines glaucoma, and the risk of pre-existing damage getting worse.
Marijuana as a Treatment Alternative
One of the commonly discussed alternatives for the treatment of glaucoma is the smoking of marijuana, because smoking marijuana does lower the eye pressure. Less often appreciated is the fact that marijuana’s effect on eye pressure only lasts 3-4 hours, meaning that to lower the eye pressure around the clock it would have to be smoked 6-8 times a day.
Furthermore, marijuana’s mood-altering effects prevent the patient who is using it from driving, operating heavy machinery, and functioning at maximum mental capacity. Marijuana cigarettes also contain hundreds of compounds that damage the lungs, and the chronic, frequent use of marijuana can damage the brain.
Learn more from the Glaucoma Research Foundation