In the United States alone, approximately 3 million people live with glaucoma. This common condition can occur at any age, but it is more common in older adults. Unfortunately, it’s one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60.
In the past, many have celebrated the benefits of cannabis for this condition, but is it really the answer? And what about CBD for glaucoma?
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a degenerative condition caused by pressure in the eyes. If not treated early, it can lead to permanent vision loss.
The difficult thing about catching it early is that many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs. The degeneration is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the condition is advanced. It’s because of this that experts recommend regular eye exams to measure eye pressure and catch it early.
Aside from eye exams, symptoms of glaucoma to watch out for include:
- blurred vision
- rainbow auras
- severe eye and head pain
- nausea and/or vomiting
- sudden loss of sight
What causes Glaucoma?
Unfortunately, the scientific community still debates the exact cause of glaucoma. That said, there are several things that experts believe contribute to its development.
There’s a fluid inside your eye, called aqueous humor, which usually flows out of your eye through a mesh-like channel. When this pressure builds up, it can cause pressure. This can sometimes be a genetic link, but other times the cause of this blockage is harder (or impossible) to determine.
Other causes include an injury to the eye, a severe eye infection, or even surgery to correct an unrelated issue, but these are rare.
Evidence also seems to suggest glaucoma has a connection to other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, and that it may be a significant predictor of Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
CBD for Glaucoma
As mentioned, it has long been accepted, and research supports this acceptance, that cannabis is a viable management option for the symptoms of late-stage glaucoma. This is because it reduces the eye pressure that’s causing the initial problems.
In fact, glaucoma is one of the indications for which the federal government once granted permission for compassionate marijuana use.
However, in more recent years, there have been some issues with cannabis in general as a treatment/management option, and with CBD specifically.
One of the potential issues with medical marijuana in general is that, in order to prevent further deterioration and eventual blindness, treatment for glaucoma needs to be a 24 hour thing. So, although smoking can provide relief, it will only do so for a short period of time, meaning a person would need to smoke almost on a continual basis. For many, that just isn’t possible.
When it comes to CBD specifically, things get even murkier. Now, we have read articles about CBD for glaucoma, and a few of them suggest CBD can help. However, that may not actually be the case.
A 2018 study done at Indiana University found that, rather then reducing the pressure in the eye, CBD actually increased it, meaning it could potentially worsen the condition.
For the study, rats were given eyedrops containing CBD. The results were not what CBD enthusiasts would have hoped for (but such is life). In the rats, the CBD raised pressure inside the eyes by 18% for at least four hours after the drops were administered.
Interesting, and to reaffirm older research, researchers also tested THC and found the eyedrops containing only THC decreased eye pressure by up to 30%.
**If you’re reading this and thinking, does that mean it will cause glaucoma, don’t fret. While it shows an increase, this is an issue if you already have glaucoma, not if you don’t. There’s been nothing to suggest it can bring about the condition. If you’re concerned about this condition, speak to your eye doctor.
CBD oil is an incredible natural substance, great for a number of health issues. But we’re not just here to help broaden the understanding of what it can do – our goal is to raise awareness, and that means busting myths and sharing all the research.
And that research obviously isn’t always going to show CBD as the answer. It’s great, but it isn’t a miracle. Science here is key, and the research has spoken. When it comes to CBD for glaucoma, our best advice is to speak with your ophthalmologist.