There are an estimated 3 million Americans suffering from Glaucoma and half of them aren’t even aware of the issue, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Glaucoma is a common eye condition which typically causes optical nerve damage, and when it’s not treated, it can cause blindness. In fact, Glaucoma is considered to be a leading cause of irreversible blindness.
While treatment and surgical procedures have improved significantly since the 1980s (slashing the risk of going blind nearly in half), the number of effective topical drugs is still very limited. Enter cannabis, or should we say the miracle compound of cannabis, CBD. Glaucoma is recognized in just about every medical marijuana state as a qualifying condition.
Cannabis has been used to treat Glaucoma for quite a while now. While THC has been in the limelight showing excellent improvement in patients, research has started to discuss that CBD could play a significant role in the healing process as well. In fact, CBD has shown in studies that it not only reduces damage done by Glaucoma, but may also help with many of the risk factors that cause the disease.
Overview of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a degenerative disease that results in high pressure in the eye’s optic nerve. This increased pressure (intraocular pressure) is what could damage the optic nerve which transmits images to the brain. If the pressure continues without treatment, it can result in permanent damage and may even lead to complete blindness.
Glaucoma is a disease which can sneak up on you without any warning. Most people who have this condition had no early symptoms or pain. This is why it’s important to have regular check-ups with your eye doctor, so they can diagnose and treat the condition before you risk long-term visual impairment.
Because of its ability to arrive undetected, Glaucoma is commonly known as “The sneak thief of vision.” While early warning signals aren’t likely, here are some of the symptoms to look out for. If you experience these you should visit a doctor immediately:
- Redness in the eye
- Nausea or vomiting
- Eye pain
- Halos around lights
- Tunnel or narrowed vision
- Vision loss
So what causes Glaucoma? It develops from intrinsic deterioration of the optic nerve – this leads to high fluid pressure on the front of the eye. Normally, the fluid known as aqueous humor will flow out of the eye through a mesh-like channel. If the channel gets blocked, the liquid will build up. It’s unknown why this blockage can occur, but doctors think that it could be inherited.
Less common causes are a severe eye infection, blunt or chemical injury to the eye, inflammatory conditions, and blocked blood vessels in the eye. While rare, it is possible that eye surgery to correct another condition could bring it on.
There are two main types of Glaucoma; open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle is the most common type.
How and Why CBD Could Help in the Treatment of Glaucoma
At the time of writing there isn’t a known cure for Glaucoma. Also, there haven’t been any large-scale clinical trials done to report on the particular effects that CBD has on the condition. However, multiple studies have shown that cannabis as a whole – even the strains that are high in THC – may be a viable and very effective treatment option.
But, the problem with using cannabis – specifically strains that are high in THC – is that the effects don’t last all that long and therefore you have to consume it every few hours. When it comes to THC, this means that you will spend most of your day stoned. For most people, this isn’t the desired effect, and it’s not very practical.
This is why CBD is so appealing. CBD is one of the cannabis plant’s non-intoxicating cannabinoids, and research suggests that it’s just as useful as THC. In other words, you can get the desired therapeutic benefits without the associated high.
Multiple studies have found that CBD could relieve intraocular pressure of the eye, therefore reducing damage and alleviating symptoms. Generally speaking, Glaucoma harms the eye due to the excessive release of one damaging chemical that is known as Glutamate. This is a compound that causes the death of neurons in the retinal after peroxynitrite has formed.
There’s a lot of scientific research that suggests that CBD products are able to prevent damaging peroxynitrite from being formed. This means that CBD will give ultimate protection to neuron nerves from the death of glutamate-induced cells.
In addition to the above, CBD has also been found to be helpful in managing certain risk factors. All of us have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our body’s, and this system plays a crucial part in neuroprotection and inflammation. Particularly, the CB1 cannabinoid receptors that are found in the ocular tissues of the eye and are responsible for the control of intraocular pressure. Therefore, many medical scientists believe that cannabinoid-based products such as CBD, have a positive effect on the ECS and its cannabinoid receptors. In actual fact, CBD could potentially reduce the IOP and protect the retinal cells.
Medical Findings: Effects of Cannabinoids and CBD on Glaucoma
Various experimental and clinical studies have been implemented all across the world to find the link between CBD and Glaucoma. Many have found that CBD and cannabis-based products work as an effective natural alternative for the treatment of Glaucoma.
For example, a study that was done by some professors from the University of Aberdeen demonstrated how certain cannabinoid compounds like CBD may relieve the symptoms of Glaucoma. This was a result of the cannabinoids seemingly having the ability to reduce the IOP. In addition, they offer neuroprotective properties. In 1972, another study also found that cannabis could reduce IOP by between 30 to 35%.
In a 1979 study that was published in the International Journal of Pharmacology and Biopharmacology, a group of 16 participants with open-angle Glaucoma were studied. 8 of these participants had high blood pressure, while the other 8 did not. After consuming CBD, patients experienced a reduction in blood pressure, along with an increased heart rate. This ultimately resulted in a reduction in IOP behind the eyes – which is the direct cause of Glaucoma.
A review conducted in 2008 looked at a number of studies that have been conducted in Europe and the U.S. A lot of them have found that cannabinoids such as CBD and CBG, along with endogenous cannabinoids have the ability to lower IOP when administered topically. But, more importantly, a lot of historical studies have demonstrated the direct part that ocular CB1 receptors play in the reduction of IOP that’s produced by cannabinoids.
Medical Benefits of Using CBD to Treat Glaucoma
CBD is not only great for the direct treatment of Glaucoma, but it could also help with the risk factors associated with the condition as well. In other studies, CBD has been found to have potential in the treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure, and inflammation. These are all risk factors related to Glaucoma. Ultimately, by treating these conditions, CBD could prevent the development of Glaucoma.
In addition to the above, a lot of studies have proven that CBD products consist of useful medicinal components, like vasorelaxants, which may help to increase the level of ocular blood flows. In addition, Glaucoma patients often suffer from unexpected and uncomfortable symptoms such as severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. CBD has analgesic and anti-nausea properties, meaning that it could also help to treat the symptoms of Glaucoma.
How to Take CBD for Glaucoma
If used correctly, CBD could be a great treatment option for many people. However, keep in mind that every individual is different and each person will have a different reaction to CBD. The same is true of any other pharmaceutical product.
The recommended dosage of each CBD product can differ vastly, which creates a lot of confusion. The dosage can differ depending on what kind of product you are using or even the strength percentage of the oil that you are using. However, on average, 25mg of CBD daily would be effective for most people. For stronger symptoms, you can increase the dosage slowly over a period of a week until you feel like there is an improvement in your symptoms.
The best methods of taking CBD to treat Glaucoma are thought to be vaping, ingestion, and topical administrations. Ingestion or vaporization are thought to be better than smoking because they don’t come with the toxic by-products associated with combustion. For long-term health, this could be crucial.
For a more localized effect, topical administration, like eye drops is a great solution because it can decrease the probability that other cannabinoid receptors in the body will be activated – which could lead to unwanted side effects.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Glaucoma
In conclusion, the key to the effectiveness of CBD in treating Glaucoma comes down to the CB1 receptors found in the eye’s ocular tissues while they regulate IOP. When used properly, CBD has the ability to lower IOP and protect the retinal of the eyes.
A lot more research is still needed to fully determine just how useful CBD is in treating Glaucoma, as well as the best ways to administer it. But one thing is for sure, CBD holds potential.