Treating Glaucoma With Medical Marijuana
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for carrying visual information from the eye to the brain. It comes in many different forms and often develops from increased pressure within the eye. This pressure may damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and even blindness. As a result, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma, but there are treatments available that may help prevent or slow the progression of the disease, including medical marijuana.
Types of Glaucoma
Glaucoma may be broken down into two categories: primary and secondary. When a doctor cannot identify a specific cause for glaucoma, it's referred to as primary glaucoma. Sometimes glaucoma may be caused by an underlying condition, in which case it's referred to as secondary glaucoma.
There are several types of primary glaucoma, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options.
The most common type of primary glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. This glaucoma develops slowly and doesn't usually exhibit any symptoms until the vision has already been damaged. Those with high blood pressure or diabetes are at an increased risk for developing open-angle glaucoma.
Other types of primary glaucoma include:
- Normal-tension glaucoma
- Closed-angle glaucoma
- Congenital glaucoma
Secondary glaucomas are caused by an underlying condition. Conditions that may lead to secondary glaucoma include diabetes, trauma, certain medications, and inflammatory diseases.
Types of secondary glaucoma include:
- Neovascular glaucoma
- Exfoliation glaucoma
- Uveitic glaucoma
Risk Factors of Glaucoma
While glaucoma may affect anyone, certain factors may increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:
- Being over the age of 60
- Having a family history of glaucoma
- Being African American, Asian, or Hispanic
- Having high blood pressure or diabetes
- Having high intraocular pressure
- Having a previous eye injury
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Although there are often no signs of glaucoma in its early stages, some symptoms may develop as the disease progresses. These symptoms include:
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you aren't alone. Roughly 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma.
How Does Medical Marijuana Treat Glaucoma?
In 1971, a study conducted by Robert Hepler and Ira Frank found that marijuana could be used to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) by 25-30%. IOP is the fluid pressure inside the eye and is one of the leading causes of damage to the optic nerve in those with glaucoma.
Research shows that the endocannabinoid system plays a direct role in overall eye health. Damaged neurons caused by glaucoma may be prevented by cannabinoids, which help to preserve vision. In addition, cannabinoids may protect the retinal cells, which would otherwise be damaged by glaucoma.
Medical marijuana has been shown to provide relief from glaucoma as effectively as typical pharmaceutical treatments. Thus, making it a viable option for those looking for an alternative treatment.
Best Cannabis Strains for Glaucoma
When using medical marijuana to treat glaucoma, it's essential to choose a strain that will be most effective in reducing the glaucoma symptoms you find most bothersome.
Strains for Eye Pressure
Blueberry: This strain is a potent Indica hybrid perfect for relieving eye pressure, reducing pain, and helping the user achieve a good night's sleep.
Maui Waui: Maui Waui gives users a feeling of happiness while working to relieve eye pressure, pain, anxiety, and depression.
Cherry Kola: This potent Indica strain offers users a relaxing body high while relieving eye pressure making it an excellent choice for those with glaucoma.
Strains for Pain and Inflammation
SuperBud: This Indica strain helps reduce pain and inflammation. It also is filled with terpenes and may help improve memory.
Jack Herer: This Sativa-dominant hybrid is a natural painkiller that may reduce tissue inflammation and stress.
Sour Grape: Sour Grape is a hybrid strain that does more than just treat pain. It also helps reduce nausea and eye pressure. All of these qualities make it a great choice for glaucoma patients.
Strains To Reduce Nausea and Vomiting
Durban Poison: This sweet Sativa strain provides users with an energetic and uplifting experience while easing symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Trinity: This strain helps relieve feelings of depression and reduces nausea. If you are experiencing nausea due to glaucoma or other conditions, this strain may help.
Sour Diesel: Sour Diesel is an energizing Sativa strain that helps eliminate feelings of nausea and has a positive, focusing effect on the user.
Suggested Terpenes for Glaucoma
Terpenes are the essential oils of cannabis. They are responsible for the many therapeutic effects of medical marijuana. Additionally, terpenes are responsible for the smell and flavor profile of each cannabis strain.
When treating glaucoma with medical marijuana, these terpenes may be especially helpful:
- Myrcene: This sedating terpene is useful for reducing pain and inflammation while helping the user relax and fall asleep. This terpene gives off a peppery taste and a musky smell.
- Caryophyllene: With flavors of pepper, spice, wood, and cloves, Caryophyllene is especially useful for reducing inflammation, anxiety, and depression.
- Limonene: This citrusy terpene has notes of lemon and orange. Those with glaucoma may find this terpene helpful in reducing eye pressure.
- Alpha-pinene: This terpene has flavors of rosemary and pine. It is known for reducing inflammation, making it great for those with glaucoma.
Many strains of medical marijuana may help with glaucoma. When choosing a stain, it's important to consider the symptoms you are trying to address and the terpene profile of the strain.If you are unsure which strain is right for you, speak with a medical marijuana professional for guidance.
Ways To Prevent Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a hereditary condition, so if you have a family member with glaucoma, you are more likely to develop the disease. However, just because you have a family member with glaucoma does not mean that you will develop the disease.
In addition to using medical cannabis, there are a few ways to help prevent glaucoma or slow the progression of the disease. Some preventative measures include:
- Monitoring your eye health with regular checkups
- Exercising regularly
- Taking prescribed eye drops regularly
- Wearing eye protection to prevent injuries
Schedule Regular Eye Exams
When it comes to eye care, prevention is key. Schedule regular eye exams with your ophthalmologist to evaluate your overall vision health and prevent glaucoma before it becomes a problem. It is recommended that you receive an eye exam every:
- 5-10 years if you are under 40
- 2-4 years if you are between 40 and 54
- 1-3 years for those who are 55 to 64
- 1-2 years for anyone over the age of 65
How Does Medical Cannabis Work for Glaucoma?
Medical marijuana has been found to help patients find relief from various conditions, including glaucoma, cancer, ALS, seizures, and many others. The active ingredients in cannabis, known as cannabinoids, work by binding to receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system.
The two primary cannabinoids found in cannabis are THC and CBD. These cannabinoids work with your natural endocannabinoids to provide your body with many benefits, including:
- Pain relief
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved mood
- Reduced anxiety
- Improved sleep
- Hunger stimulation
Visit a Medical Marijuana Doctor for Glaucoma
While laser treatments, surgery, and pharmaceuticals are some of the most common treatments for glaucoma, medical marijuana is another effective treatment with far fewer side effects.
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, medical marijuana may be a treatment option worth considering. Take our qualification survey and schedule an appointment with Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinics of Florida today to see if you qualify.