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Meds Glaucoma - Macular Degeneration and Other Eye Disorders


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What you need to know about marijuana and glaucoma

The ability to reduce eye pressure and ease the effects of glaucoma was the first scientifically confirmed health benefit of medical marijuana, and it may still be the most well known argument supporting medical marijuana. However, this effect was discovered quite by accident. In the early 1970s, a group of UCLA researchers, who were studying the telltale marijuana “red eye” in hopes of somehow using the phenomenon to help the DEA to narc out stoners, incidentally found that cannabis reduced eye pressure by about 25 percent. That result was as good as any produced by an FDA approved glaucoma medication. (In fact, it still is today.)

Cannabis really does counteract glaucoma. It’s a medical fact. Unfortunately, the effects only last about three hours, and it seems that the most effective cannabinoids are also the most psychoactively potent. Thus, to be completely treated, you’d need to smoke six or seven joints a day. In other words, you’d be high all the time. Very high.

As fun as that might seem at first, it’s clearly an untenable way to live. For the elderly, who are most effected by glaucoma, a prolonged cannabis high can be downright dangerous, since it can depress blood pressure and cause heart attack. So for now, the cannabis cure is impractical but grounds for further research.

In 1978, reggae man Peter Tosh immortalized the UCLA clinical findings in the single “Bush Doctor” (you know how lab reports are just so sing-able), thus giving generations of college students still decades away from material risk of degenerative eye disease both an anthem and a medically sound defense for their recreational use of marijuana.

How Medical Marijuana Helps to Treat Glaucoma


So many diseases and their symptoms are being treated with medical marijuana today. With the sale and possession of medical cannabis becoming legalized in more and more states everyday, it is allowing patients to use marijuana to treat a range of ailments.

One of the groups of people who are seeing fantastic benefits of these medical marijuana developments are those who suffer from glaucoma. Glaucoma is one of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, Hawaii, and more.

A study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health estimates that there will be roughly 79.6 million people with glaucoma around the world by 2020. Of this nearly 80 million people, a disproportionate amount will be women. The large number of people afflicted makes glaucoma a huge target market for scientists researching ways to use cannabinoids to improve eye health.

What is Glaucoma?

Many readers may be wondering what is glaucoma? If you are already familiar with the eye condition, then skip ahead.

First, there's two major types of glaucoma. There's open angle glaucoma (a.k.a. "OAG"), and then there's angle closure glaucoma (a.k.a. "ACG"). A severe eye condition that damages the optic nerve in the eye; glaucoma reduces side vision and can eventually lead to blindness. In fact, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Existing Glaucoma Treatment Options

There are several ways of treating glaucoma currently. Treatments that a ophthalmologist might prescribe can range from prescription eye drops to surgery depending on the type and severity of the glaucoma.

Medical marijuana is starting to offer these patients another treatment option before they turn to invasive procedures such as surgery.

How Cannabis Helps Glaucoma

Cannabis as a useful treatment for glaucoma is not a new idea by any means. In fact, studies have shown since the 1970's, that intra-ocular pressure can be lowered greatly in people with glaucoma by consuming marijuana.

The National Eye Institute supports this research, but the problem with cannabis as a treatment is that it seems to only lower IOP for brief periods of time. So far it seems that marijuana only lowers IOP for roughly three or 4 hours, meaning that treatment has to be repeated several times a day for the desired effects. Nevertheless, its an effective one from what we can tell currently.

Research is still being done to explore whether or not the active ingredients in cannabis are the best overall option for the treatment of glaucoma. In the meantime, many physicians find it to be a fantastic treatment, while more extensive research is done.


There are handfuls of diseases and ailments that medical marijuana is being used to help treat.
‘Cannabis’ drop that treats glaucoma while you sleep developed

An eye drop that treats glaucoma while you sleep has been developed by scientists. It is based on a chemical found in cannabis and could end the misery of twice daily drops that are often ineffective. The condition is triggered by a build-up of pressure that damages cells in the optic nerve. It is the second biggest cause of blindness. The breakthrough could lead to better therapies for other serious eye disorders – including macular degeneration which also destroys sight. Professor Vikramaditya Yadav, a biomedical engineer at British Columbia University in Canada, said: “Medicated eye drops are commonly used to treat glaucoma – but they’re often poorly absorbed. “Less than 5 per cent of the drug stays in the eye because most of the drops just roll off the eye. “Even when the drug is absorbed it may fail to reach the back of the eye where it can start repairing damaged neurons and relieving the pressure that characterises glaucoma.” To solve these problems his team created a watery gel – or hydrogel. This was then filled with thousands of nanoparticles containing a chemical called CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). It is found in the marijuana plant and has already shown promise in relieving symptoms of glaucoma. The disorder blights the lives of more than 56,00 people in Scotland. Many more may not know they have the condition. Current eye drops taken daily or twice daily can lower internal eye pressure to help prevent damage to the optic nerve. When the researchers applied their drops on donated pig corneas similar to human corneas – they were absorbed quickly and reached the back of the eye. The team whose gel is described in the journal Drug Delivery & Translational Research is now working to scale up production and develop more anti-glaucoma cannabinoid molecules using genetically engineered microbes. Glaucoma is caused by the death of cells in the retina at the back of the eye. A spokesperson for sight loss charity RNIB Scotland said any new developments that improve on the treatment are welcome, but urged people to get a regular eye examination – free in Scotland. He added: “Glaucoma damages the peripheral vision first and up to 40 per cent of your sight may be lost before you notice a difference. “An eye test is the only way to detect glaucoma in its early stages so it’s vital that everyone does attend for an eye check-up at least every two years.”

The following information is presented for educational purposes only. Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana Inc. and none should be inferred.

Affecting more than 10 million Americans, macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease caused by the deterioration of the retina. Studies have found that cannabis has neuroprotective properties, suggesting it could be beneficial for maintaining retinal health.

Overview of Macular Degeneration
The leading cause of vision loss, macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina. That central portion, called the macula, is responsible for recording the images seen and sending them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain for interpretation. Its deterioration, which is gradual, leads to images not being received correctly.

Macular degeneration, also referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), occurs in three stages. Early AMD is when small yellow deposits, called drusen, develop beneath the retina. During this early stage, there is no vision loss and therefore the ability to catch AMD early on only happens during routine eye exams. At intermediate AMD, the drusen are larger and there may be some vision loss but often no noticeable symptoms. It’s not until late AMD that vision loss definitely becomes noticeable.

Why macular degeneration develops is not conclusively known, although scientists believe its causes include both heredity and environment. The biggest risk factor for the disease is age, as it’s most likely to occur in those 55 years and older. Smoking also doubles the risk of macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is considered an incurable eye disease. To slow the progression of the disease, physicians often recommend lifestyle changes like exercise, avoiding smoking, dieting, and protecting the eyes from ultraviolet light.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Macular Degeneration
The effects of cannabis on macular degeneration have yet to be adequately studies, but research indicates that cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) offer neuroprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects that may be beneficial for improving cell survival in the eyes and encouraging eye health5. Cannabinoids have demonstrated as having neuroprotective properties that may inhibit cell death and vision loss in the case of degenerative eye disorders like retinitis pigmentosa1,6.

An animal study found both CBD and THC effective for limiting the formation of peroxynitrade, a potent oxidant responsible for retinal neuron death2. In another study CBD treatments significantly reduced oxidative stress, decreased the levels of levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, and prevented retinal cell death in the diabetic retina3.

In what further suggests that cannabinoids may be able to play a therapeutic role in patients with degenerative eye diseases, studies have found evidence that cannabinoids increase the light sensitivity of cells in the retina, effectively improving low-light vision7,8.

States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Macular Degeneration
No states have approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of macular degeneration. However, in Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment. In addition, various states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for the treatment of macular degeneration with the recommendation from a physician. These states include: California (any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended by a physician), Connecticut (other medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection), Massachusetts (other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other conditions subject to approval), Rhode Island (other conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any “terminal or debilitating condition”).

Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Macular Degeneration
  • THC reduces toxicity in the eye, indicating it possesses neuroprotective effects that inhibit cell death.
    Protective effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol against N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced AF5 cell death.
  • THC and CBD reduce the attenuation of peroxynitrate, thereby protecting eye neuron health.
    Neuroprotective Effect of(−)Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol in N-Methyl-d-Aspartate-Induced Retinal Neurotoxicity : Involvement of Peroxynitrite.

  1. Chen, J., Lee, C.-T., Errico, S., Deng, X., Cadet, J. L., & Freed, W. J. (2005). Protective effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol against N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced AF5 cell death. Brain Research. Molecular Brain Research, 134(2), 215–225. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1824211/.
  2. El-Remessy, A.B., Khalil, I.E., Matragoon, S., Abou-Mohamed, G., Tsai, N.-J., Roon, P., Caldwell, R.B., Caldwell, R.W., Green, K., and Liou, G.I. (2003). Neuroprotective Effect of(−)Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol in N-Methyl-d-Aspartate-Induced Retinal Neurotoxicity : Involvement of Peroxynitrite. The American Journal of Pathology, 163(5), 1997–2008. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892413/.
  3. El-Remessy, A.B., Al-Shabrawey, M., Khalifa, Y., Tsai, N.-T., Caldwell, R.B., and Liou, G.I. (2006, January). Neuroprotective and Blood-Retinal Barrier-Preserving Effects of Cannabidiol in Experimental Diabetes. Neurobiology, 168(1), 235-44. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1592672/pdf/JPATH168000235.pdf.
  4. Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. (2015, September). National Eye Institute. Retrieved from https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts.
  5. Hampson, A. J., Grimaldi, M., Axelrod, J., & Wink, D. (1998). Cannabidiol and (−)Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95(14), 8268–8273. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC20965/.
  6. Lax, P., Esquiva, G., Altavilla, C., and Cuenca, N. (2014, March). Neuroprotective effects of the cannabinoid agonist HU210 on retinal degeneration. Experimental Eye Research, 120, 175-185. Retrieved from Macular Degeneration. (2017, August 24). S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014483514000347.
  7. Miraucourt, L.S., Tsui, J., Gobert, D., Desjardins, J.-F., Schohl, A., Sild, M., Spratt, P., Castonguay, A., De Konick, Y., Marsh-Armstrong, N., Wiseman, P.W., and Ruthazer, E. S. (2016). Endocannabinoid signaling enhances visual responses through modulation of intracellular chloride levels in retinal ganglion cells. eLife, 5, e15932. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4987138/.
  8. Russo, E.B., Merzouki, A., Molera Mesa, J., Frey, K.A., and Bach, P.J. (2004, July). Cannabis improves night vision: a case study of dark adaptometry and scotopic sensitivity in kif smokers of the Rif mountains of northern Morocco. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 93(1), 99-104. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874104001503.
  9. What is Macular Degeneration? (n.d.). American Macular Degeneration Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration
Using Marijuana to Treat Glaucoma

Now with recreational marijuana legalized in Michigan, it’s easier for glaucoma patients to substitute traditional treatment methods for a joint. But does it hurt more than it helps? A University of Michigan expert weighs in.

Marijuana increased in popularity in the mid-1970s when there was interest in cannabinoids for reduction in intraocular pressure (IOP), which is the fluid pressure inside the eye. Now, its usage has increased due to its pleasure-inducing side effects, and behind tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, it is the most widely used drug in society, according to Michigan Medicine ophthalmologist, Theresa M. Cooney, M.D.

Michigan voters took to the polls in November 2008 and voted in favor of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), which protects people with specific medical conditions from penalties under state law who use marijuana for medical purposes. More recently, recreational marijuana has also been legalized in Michigan.
As of 2019, 23 states, including Michigan, have legalized medical marijuana and some people are substituting their glaucoma medication with the drug. But does marijuana help? Cooney says the answer is complicated.
Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness in the United States (first for African Americans in the United States), causes optic neuropathy, a progressive loss of visual field and can lead to permanent, irreversible vision loss if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.
A debilitating condition
The MMA allows the usage of prescribed marijuana for “treating or alleviating pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions”, which is defined as producing one or more of the following:
Not all cases of glaucoma produce symptoms that classify it as a “debilitating medical condition” like closed-angle glaucoma, according to Cooney. The three types of glaucoma are:
  • Open-angle (chronic) glaucoma
  • Closed-angle (acute) glaucoma
  • Secondary glaucoma
Open-angle glaucoma is a chronic medical condition that is generally painless and although vision threatening, it is a slow or non-progressive disease for which medical and surgical treatments are available. Glaucoma eye drops, registered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have long-term, proven efficacy if taken as prescribed.
Closed-angle glaucoma is an acute medical condition with sudden onset, that typically lasts only hours to a few days. It can cause pain and/or nausea because of elevated intraocular pressures. However, once effective pharmaceutical treatment is in place, there are no longer symptoms that would be consistent with a debilitating medical condition, as defined by the MMA.
Secondary glaucoma occurs when an identifiable source causes increased eye pressure that results in optic nerve damage and vision loss. This can be closed-angle or open-angle glaucoma.
Marijuana vs. traditional treatment
There are several classes of drugs proven to be effective as medical treatments for glaucoma. Recent glaucoma drops have also shown effectiveness for up to eight hours.

"You’d need to smoke eight to 10 marijuana cigarettes a day for them to have the same effectiveness as regular, glaucoma drops."
Theresa M. Cooney, M.D.

Aside from medications, there exist various surgery options for patients, such as the Xen gel stent, when a tiny tube is implanted in the eye to preserve vision, and the trabeculectomy, when a piece of tissue is removed from eye to create an opening to drain fluid.
Combining medication and marijuana is not recommended, says Cooney, because “we don’t know how marijuana interacts with traditional treatment methods since there aren’t studies investigating that yet.”
She adds that side effects of these traditional medical therapies are generally known to be considerably more mild than those associated with high-dose marijuana usage.
The effects of marijuana are also variable, since not all marijuana is created equal and it is not FDA approved, which is a serious health concern.
“Marijuana can be laced with anything,” says Cooney. “There are variable potencies of preparation and more than 400 different chemicals involved.”
Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, meaning that there is a high potential for abuse and there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision. It is discouraged from being used in place of any traditional, and studied, treatment options.
The good and the bad
According to Cooney, marijuana can create a 25 percent IOP reduction in 60 to 65 percent of people with or without glaucoma. What exactly causes this within the drug is unknown.
The problem is that IOP reduction lasts from 3 to 3.5 hours. To treat glaucoma effectively, IOP must be controlled around the clock, which likely leads to compliance issues.
“You’d need to smoke eight to 10 marijuana cigarettes a day for them to have the same effectiveness as regular, glaucoma drops,” says Cooney. “That’s 2,920 to 3,650 a year.”

Aside from the high, marijuana can substantially reduce blood pressure, which is a systemic problem. Reducing blood flow to the optic nerve means increasing susceptibility to optic nerve damage, which worsens glaucoma.
Decreased blood pressure is present within an hour, but in some who experience postural hypotension with hypertension, it can be as quick as 10 to 15 minutes.
Another systemic problem: smoking marijuana cigarettes can cause cardiac palpitations within two to three minutes, which will only return to normal after 90 to 120 minutes.
More apparent than physical alterations are the psychotropic effects that can cause euphoria, dysphoria and disruption of short term memory. These effects prevent individuals from safely driving, operating heavy machinery or functioning at maximum mental capacity.
Because marijuana is not filtered, neither are the cigarettes. Long-term usage can cause emphysema-like respiratory changes because of their release of tar, carcinogens and other volatile materials.
“There’s a higher concentration of these carcinogens in marijuana than tobacco, which increases your cancer risk” says Cooney.
Other long-term side effects include:
  • Hormonal changes, which can increase the risk of poor pregnancy outcomes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired immune system responses
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Addiction, and withdrawal after cessation of smoking
Ocular side effects include:
  • Redness
  • Decreased tear production
  • Double vision
  • Being able to maintain a clear image and focus on distant objects
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye twitching or spasms of the muscles
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Studies in the last decade have found receptors for active ingredients of marijuana in the tissues of the eyes. According to Cooney, there has also been research suggesting that local administration of the active ingredients of marijuana may have several neuroprotective effects.
“There have been no long-term studies demonstrating whether or not long-standing usage of marijuana maintains visual function, visual fields or stable optic nerves,” says Cooney.
However, there is a question of whether there is potential for THC, a chemical found in marijuana that is not toxic to the lungs, to be beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma.
A concern, Cooney states, is that there is absorption variability from the gastrointestinal tract, meaning there is poor predictability of both its timing and intensity of peak effects.
It has not yet been possible to formulate a THC eye drop that is capable of introducing a sufficient concentration of the drug into the eye due to its low water solubility of active ingredients. Topical applications have been associated with irritation and corneal damage.
“Based on reviews by the National Eye Institute and the Institute of Medicine and on available scientific evidence, the Task Force on Complementary Therapies believes that no scientific evidence has demonstrated increased benefits and/or diminished the risks of marijuana usage to treat glaucoma compared with the wide variety of pharmaceutical agents now available,” says Cooney. “But there’s still much more to explore with the help of future studies.”
Head Of Nation’s Only Federally Legal Marijuana Farm Develops THC Eye Drops

The head of the nation’s only federally approved marijuana farm has revealed that he is developing cannabis eye drops to treat glaucoma.

In a podcast interview, pharmacologist Mahmoud ElSohly, director of the University of Mississippi’s Marijuana Research Project, discussed the history of how an eye doctor discovered that cannabis can relieve the interocular pressure associated with glaucoma. But while the THC in the plant treated the symptoms, it also means patients experience the high.

“The best way to treat glaucoma is not to take a drug that will affect your brain, affect your ability to function, the whole rest of your body just to lower the pressure inside the eyes,” ElSohly argued. “The way to do this is to develop, let’s say, eye drops, eye drops from marijuana.”

Both his lab and a separate, unnamed company that licensed the idea are looking into the eye drop possibility, with the company having already begun clinical trials, ElSohly said. It’s a notable advancement because THC is lipophilic, acting like an oil, and so “it doesn’t penetrate into the inner compartments of the eye to lower the pressure.”

“Therefore, only if you take systemically—meaning if you inhale it or swallow it or something—but then you deal with all the side effects of THC,” he said in the interview, which was recorded in February and published this month. “Now we’re developing a pharmaceutical product, and it’s been licensed by the way now, that we take the THC molecule and we modify it in a certain way to allow it to go inside the eye, and once inside, it breaks off and releases THC just in the eye to lower the pressure.”

“You don’t feel any psychological activity, it doesn’t even get into your blood. It’s all localized in the eye,” he said. “We have this product now that is being licensed and being developed as an eye drop.”

“That’s the way to develop pharmaceuticals based on cannabis but not cannabis, based on marijuana but not marijuana,” he added during the appearance on the podcast of anti-legalization organization National Families In Action, for which ElSohly serves as a scientific advisory board member. “That’s the way to do it and develop the medicine.”

The targeted treatment of glaucoma using the novel delivery method that ElSohly described is noteworthy, but it also underscores the potential for the development of other valuable treatment options derived from marijuana that’s being inhibited under prohibition. One barrier that researchers and lawmakers alike have identified is the substandard quality of cannabis produced at ElSohly’s farm.

Currently, the University of Mississippi is the only federally approved source of research-grade marijuana, but scientists have complained about the cannabis supply, which one study found is genetically closer to hemp than products available in state-legal markets. That raises questions about the validity of studies that rely on the government’s marijuana.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said in September that it is taking steps to approve additional marijuana farms beyond ElSohly’s Mississippi operation, three years after the agency initially invited applications for such facilities.

In an earlier podcast segment released in September, ElSohly made a series of remarks that some viewed as reflective of a fundamental misunderstanding of marijuana issues.

The director characterized cannabis containing eight percent THC as “extremely high potency” and expressed confusion as to why individuals would seek out varieties in the commercial market that contain “20 percent or 15 or 18 or any of those high amounts.”

But ElSohly was thinking about marijuana consumption in the context of standardized clinical trials, where individuals would have to consume an entire joint in one sitting in order to compare the effects of a controlled dose with other subjects. Others have pointed out that consumers might prefer higher concentration products because they can achieve the desired effect without having to smoke as much.
Head of the only federally legal farm, developing a product that is "...cannabis, but not cannabis, based on marijuana, but not marijuana", and the guy is on the board of an antilegalization organization? What is wrong with this picture?
Cannabis and Macular Degeneration: Can It Help?

There was a time when people correlated marijuana and the eyes only with dryness, redness and dilated pupils. Time (and some very pinpointed research) has indeed changed this perception for the better. Now there is an overall consensus of the power of cannabis to help with some eye afflictions, especially glaucoma. But what about the BIG ONE that is estimated to affect 6.3 million baby boomers alone by the year 2030? Might cannabinoid therapy be able to help with age-related macular degeneration as well?

What is Macular Degeneration?

According to the American Macular Degeneration Association, macular degeneration (or MD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the country, currently affecting more than 10 million Americans of all ages, more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. Considered an “incurable disease,” MD is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, i.e. the inside back layer of our eye that first “records” images before they are sent to the optic nerve and brain, where they are translated into scenes we can comprehend. The job of the “macula” is to focus the central vision of the eye. It controls our ability to read, drive and recognize colors and faces. We are able to see details in objects because of the macula as well.

When the cells of the macula begin to deteriorate, the result is that images are not received correctly. In the early and intermediate stages of the disease, blurred vision or waviness may occur. As MD worsens, however, central vision may become lost altogether (although peripheral sight remains).

As we shall see, there are quite a few attributes of cannabis that may correlate it chemically with MD relief. But first, let’s hear about one case where the results of CBD oil in particular on Intermediate MD were crystal clear.

Fabi’s Story

Fabi is a small business owner and active part of the tiny, artist community of Taos, New Mexico. About a year ago, Fabi contracted a tick-born disease. At the suggestion of a friend, Fabi began using a straight CBD oil that she was able to obtain at her local herb store for the condition. She started using the CBD oil internally as instructed by the trained herbalist on staff there.

While she says that her disease symptoms did seem to disappear while she has been on the CBD oil (although she couldn’t say for sure because her symptoms tend to come and go), ANOTHER healthy side effect of CBD was undeniable.

Fabi had also been suffering from macular degeneration for a while (longer than the tick-born illness). About three weeks after starting to use CBD oil, Fabi went to an appointment with her eye doctor. In the beginning months of her MD diagnosis, she received the “standard of care” for someone with her condition: injections of either Lucentis, Avastin or Eylea directly into the eye. All three of these drugs, two of which are off-shoots of colorectal cancer treatment drugs, are designed to inhibit the growth of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). An overabundance of VEGF proteins in the eye area are thought to contribute to abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina, one of the factors contributing to macular degeneration. Because the injections were so unpleasant for her and they weren’t improving the condition, Fabi decided to discontinue them months ago. At the time, she simply resolved to live with the condition, and possibly the loss of her eyesight, as best she could.

That day, her doctor took the usual round of photos of her eyes to see how the condition was progressing. She began with the “wet” right eye, which before that day had been classified as being “Intermediate MD,” meaning some loss of vision and symptoms of MD were clearly present. Her doctor couldn’t believe what she saw.

“The eye doctor treating me for macular degeneration couldn’t believe the photo of the macular,” Fabi said in a recent Facebook post about the visit. “The leaking in the blood vessel that causes lesions, bumps, swelling, etc. (which causes the loss of vision) was mostly gone.”

According to Fabi, her doctor commented: “This can’t be! You haven’t been getting injections so how did the swelling go down?”

Fabi wrote (and confirmed later in a brief interview with UPG), that the only thing she had changed over the course of the three weeks prior to her doctor’s appointment was the introduction of taking CBD oil sublingually (under the tongue). Fabi says that her right eye has gone down from an “Intermediate MD” to an “Early Stage MD” diagnosis. She is now excited to keep up with her CBD oil protocol, which she is confident will clear up the right eye even more and begin to work its magic on the left as time goes on.

“I’m estatic!” says Fabi.

Do Cannabiniods Help Macular Degeneration?

Was it the CBD oil that caused the macular degeneration in Fabi’s right eye to reduce so dramatically in such a short time? Since no studies have been done on cannabinoid therapy and MD directly, scientifically, no one can say for sure. However, there are some interesting correlations between certain characteristics of the healing power of cannabis and the particular mechanisms of macular degeneration:

There are cannabinoid receptors in the eye area. In a ground-breaking Finnish study on glaucoma conducted in 2002 and published in the journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics, researcher Tomi Järvinena and his team discovered that the eye area has cannabinoid receptors, making this intricately complicated area of the body also a part of the all-encompassing endocannabiniod system (which helps to balance and regulate all other body systems). In the study, smoking cannabis directly was found to lower intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients, but “the discovery of ocular cannabinoid receptors implied an explanation for the induction of hypotension by topical cannabinoid applications.”
Cannabis is an anti-inflammatory. The fact that cannabis is an anti-inflammatory is nothing new. But cannabidiol has also been shown to be an anti-inflammatory specifically for the retina area, especially when that inflammation is associated with endotoxin exposure and diabetes. Believe it or not, there is a direct correlation between all three of these conditions. Diabetes and macular degeneration often go hand in hand (specifically because of low glutathione levels). Exposure to bacterial endotoxins, on the other hand, can often be an initial cause of MD. And all three of these conditions are instigated by the inflammatory response, which, of course, CBD has proven to be able to mitigate quite effectively.
Cannibinoids have been shown to inhibit VEGF growth. The whole point of administering the grueling injection of drugs directly into the eye for MD patients is because, supposedly, these drugs have the ability to stop the progression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). But cannabis has also been shown to do the same thing, with little to no harsh side effects. A 2004 mouse model study of gliomas (brain tumors) conducted by researchers at Comlutense University in Madrid, Spain found that cannabinoids inhibited VEGF pathways, thus slowing tumor growth in the mice. The same effect was also seen in two glioma patients as well.
“Because blockade of the VEGF pathway constitutes one of the most promising anti-tumoral approaches currently available, the present findings provide a novel pharmacological target for cannabinoid-based therapies,” the final report, published in the journal Cancer Research, reported.

Science may someday prove cannabinoid therapy to be the safe, effective, go-to therapy for the millions of Americans affected with macular degeneration. In the meantime, for Fabi (and others like her), perhaps the only proof she needs is the kind she can see with her own two eyes.
MMJ And Glaucoma: Everything You Need To Know

Glaucoma is a painful medical condition that affects the optic nerve. Glaucoma occurs when intraocular pressure – increased pressure in the eye caused by a buildup of fluid – irritates and damages to the optic nerve. This buildup of fluid is usually caused by a blockage in the mesh-like channel that the naturally occurring fluid, known as aqueous humor, flows out through.

Glaucoma is a painful condition and can sometimes lead to sight loss and even blindness. So can MMJ treat glaucoma? And if so, exactly how does medical marijuana help glaucoma? Put simply, glaucoma patients can use medical cannabis to lower intraocular pressure. This reduction in IOP greatly reduces the painful symptoms of glaucoma.

If you’ve been wondering “Can a medical marijuana recommendation help glaucoma?”, read on for all you need to know.

Does Glaucoma Count As A Qualifying Condition For A Medical Marijuana Recommendation?
In the vast majority of legal MMJ states, glaucoma counts as a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana recommendation. Glaucoma was one of the first medical conditions that health care professionals realized could benefit a lot from treatment with MMJ.

What Are The Symptoms of Glaucoma?
The symptoms of glaucoma include eye pain, nausea, headache, blurred vision, sight loss, visual disturbance, and reddening of the eye. Glaucoma patients and medical cannabis can go hand in hand, with MMJ helping to alleviate the painful symptoms of the condition when used correctly.

Who Usually Suffers From Glaucoma?
Before we answer the question “Can MMJ treat glaucoma?”, here is a list of people who are most likely to suffer from the condition:

  • People over 40
  • People with a family history of glaucoma
  • People of African, Irish, Japanese, Russian, Hispanic, Innuit, or Scandinavian heritage
  • People with diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure
  • People with high eye pressure, or who have suffered an injury to the eye
How Does Medical Marijuana Help Glaucoma?
A medical marijuana recommendation can help treat glaucoma because MMJ lowers intraocular pressure. Cannabinoid receptors are myriad in ocular tissue and they play a large role in pressure reduction. Because intraocular pressure causes the painful symptoms as well as long-term eye damage associated with glaucoma, lowering IOP by ingesting medical marijuana helps glaucoma patients to feel more comfortable and to stave off long-term sight loss.

What Are The Limitations Of Medical Marijuana As A Treatment For Glaucoma?
MMJ cannot cure glaucoma; it can only alleviate the symptoms of the condition. Some doctors are reluctant to prescribe MMJ for glaucoma because they believe the health risks involved in smoking outweigh the benefits of symptom reduction for glaucoma sufferers. This can be mitigated by ingesting medical marijuana in other ways, such as through vaping or edibles.

Another limitation when treating glaucoma with medical marijuana is that the intraocular pressure-lowering effect of MMJ only lasts for about four hours, so MMJ needs to be ingested regularly throughout the day and night to maintain the positive IOP-reducing effects.

Which Medical Marijuana Strains Are Best For Treating Glaucoma?
Glaucoma patients consistently rate certain medical cannabis strains as being most effective for treating their condition. These strains are:

  • Sour Diesel
  • Tesla Tower
  • Sour Grape
  • Bubba Kush
  • Girl Scout Cookies
  • Blue Dream
All of these strains have robust pain-killing properties and are also effective at reducing intraocular pressure.

How Can I Get Medical Marijuana For Glaucoma?
You can get MMJ to treat your glaucoma by first getting a medical marijuana card. Once you have an MMJ card for glaucoma, you can then purchase MMJ products from your local dispensaries, or depending on what state you live in, you can cultivate your MMJ for glaucoma at home.

Where Can You Get Further Information About Medical Marijuana And Glaucoma?
If you want to learn more about how a medical marijuana recommendation helps glaucoma, it is best to go to your local dispensary and ask the staff. In 2020, MMJ dispensaries not only dispense MMJ products, but also knowledge and education. The MMJ market is now super-competitive and dispensaries try to set themselves apart by offering the best service possible. A big part of this is providing cutting-edge information and education to their customers, so take advantage of this!

What Medical Marijuana Dosage Is Best For Treating Glaucoma?
There are many ways to ingest medical marijuana for glaucoma. As mentioned earlier, the intraocular pressure-reducing effect of MMJ only lasts for about four hours, so it is necessary to ingest MMJ regularly to get a constant effect. Glaucoma patients often choose to use medical cannabis by vaping or in the form of edibles, to avoid the health risks associated with smoking.

How Does Cannabis Help Glaucoma?

Jan 20 2022

Readers of a certain age will remember that when the medical marijuana legalization movement was beginning to gather momentum, Americans suffering from glaucoma were often cited as people who could benefit from legal medical cannabis. It was the prominent condition that reformers sought to build upon in the quest to convince lawmakers and the public that cannabis was not as dangerous as the government insisted. Was this an urban legend or can marijuana use actually help those suffering from such a debilitating disease?

What is Glaucoma?​

According to the Center for Disease Control, about three million Americans have glaucoma and it is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. While anyone can suffer from glaucoma, certain groups face far higher risks. They include African Americans over the age 40, all people over the age of 60, those with a family history of glaucoma and individuals with diabetes. Sadly, African Americans are six to eight times more likely to get glaucoma than white Americans, and people with diabetes are twice as likely to get glaucoma than people without diabetes. Around 60 million people worldwide have glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for African Americans in the U.S., and the second leading cause of for the general population. It can cause optic neuropathy, which is a progressive loss of visual field, and can lead to permanent, irreversible vision loss if it is not diagnosed and treated properly. Glaucoma is considered to be a neurological condition that has been directly linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

There are two major types of glaucoma. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common and onsets gradually as the eye begins to struggle with draining fluid. Eye pressure continues to build until the optic nerve is damaged. Angle-closure glaucoma (referred to by some as “closed-angle glaucoma” or “narrow-angle glaucoma”) occurs when the iris is extremely close to the drainage angle of the eye. The drainage flow becomes blocked and pressure on the eye rapidly increases. This type of acute attack necessitates immediate attention to avoid the onset of blindness.

Cannabis and Glaucoma​

Marijuana for glaucoma has been known to have potential benefits because of the way cannabis interacts with the body in general via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS oversees a wide range of critical functions like appetite, mood, memory, fertility, etc. It is comprised primarily of CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and CB2 receptors in the peripheral nervous system. It also produces the key endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA)

and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG) that help keep internal functions running smoothly. They are only produced as needed.

When tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) enters the body, it interacts with the ECS by binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and instigating the variety of changes that we experience when consuming weed, both psychoactive and physical.
Another major cannabinoid found in cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD also binds to receptors in the body but does so differently from THC. It does not induce a “high” and is becoming incredibly popular for its therapeutic properties.

How Does Marijuana Help Glaucoma?​

Glaucoma medical marijuana research has been going on for decades and findings show that the THC found in cannabis reduces the intraocular pressure (by up to 30%) that people suffer due to glaucoma. Unfortunately, the idea of glaucoma and weed being an easy fix was discounted because the pressure relief only lasts for three to four hours. The condition must be treated around the clock, so the idea of THC and glaucoma symptom reduction needs to be looked at from a practical perspective. Patients are not going to be advised by doctors to constantly consume cannabis. THC eyedrops have been developed, but they were found to be ineffective at penetrating tissues within the eye. Likewise, the unpredictability of consuming cannabis has inhibited an effective marijuana-based treatment for the condition.

CBD and Glaucoma​

The idea of the potential for CBD oil and glaucoma relief was investigated due to the way in which CBD helps alleviate the symptoms of so many other ailments, but according to the American Association of Ophthalmology, CBD oil and CBD oil eye drops actually had the opposite effect of THC in studies on rats. The eyes of the animals suffered an 18% increase of pressure for at least four hours after application.

Other Cannabinoids and the Future of Cannabinoids and Glaucoma​

The demonstrated health benefits of cannabinoids that have already been identified and isolated are incredibly promising, and research is ongoing in labs around the world to isolate as many cannabinoids as possible. CBG and CBC are two cannabinoids that link to receptors in the ECS and could have therapeutic benefits for glaucoma patients. Thankfully, increasing access to cannabis and hemp for research purposes will allow scientists to focus on what might work best to relieve the symptoms associated with glaucoma and develop an effective cannabis-based treatment for the awful disease. Until then, the evidence that cannabis can help with glaucoma exists, but an effective, low-risk treatment does not.

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