Medical Marijuana Research: Glaucoma

Among the many reasons for people to use medical marijuana, glaucoma garners a place among the most frequent of these reasons. This has been one of the main factors considered by the federal government in allowing for the controlled use of marijuana. According to research results since 1970s, both THC and marijuana lessens intraocular pressure which is a primary triggering factor to the development of glaucoma. Considerable interest has been generated by first reports because at that time, regular medications for the disease have led to different side effects.

Glaucoma is one of the primary causes of blindness, which affects over 60 million individuals. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), which is the disease’s most ordinary for, is a gradually advancing disorder that damages cells in the retina and debases the eye’s nerve. Such losses narrow visual fields that ultimately disappear, leaving the patient completely without sight.

Although researchers have not yet been able to discover what triggers primary open-angle glaucoma, they have found three facilitating factors that put people at risk for the disease: race, elevated intraocular pressure, and age. In the case of African Americans, the stats increases to ten percent and rises to twenty five percent for Caribbean people having African origin. Only one percent of individuals aged 60 suffer from POAG and nine percent of people aging over 80 develop glaucoma.

High intra-ocular pressure is due to the blockage in the surge of fluid that keeps the eye’s ability to maintain its shape. The clear fluid, aqueous humour, basically flows between the back of the cornea and front of the lens. People having this factor experience seepage of fluid from the frontal eye chamber becoming restricted; this causes pressure to develop which can be likened to water at the rear of a dam. Scientists suspect that the progressing pressure in the eye leads to glaucoma by diminishing nutrient flow to the optic nerve. Mostly due to the fact that elevated intraocular pressure is the single most noteworthy risk factor for the disease which can be managed, most treatments that have been discovered have been intended to reduce it. It is unfortunate however, that decreasing intraocular pressure is not a guarantee to prevent or slow down the development of glaucoma towards blindness.

A number of clinical studies that have found marijuana or cannabinoids reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) as same go with traditional glaucoma medications. This was found to be true whether cannabinoids are given by inhalation, orally, or by intravenously. This does not apply, however when they are administered directly to the eye. Synthetic cannabinoids in the form of pill and THC, intravenous injections of natural cannabinoids, and eaten or smoked marijuana, have been proven to decrease IOP among adults having normal IOP and glaucoma patients. As a matter of fact, in many tests, one dose of cannabinoid or marijuana sustained this effect for 3 to 4 hours and researchers are still to describe how cannabinoids and marijuana actually reduce IOP. Potentially, future studies could unearth therapeutic effects for some cannabinoids aside from THC or better yet be able to produce analogues that are longer-lasting with much less side effects.

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