Glaucoma and THC: What You Need to Know
Did you know that glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the world? This condition affects over 60 million people globally and around 3 million adults in the United States.
Glaucoma is a disorder of the inner eye. It’s characterized by the destruction of retinal cells and the optic nerve. These factors lead to progressive loss of vision and eventual blindness.
But there is good news. Glaucoma and THC are connected. And this connection could mean big things for decreasing the risk factors for developing glaucoma.
So, how exactly can THC help with glaucoma? Keep reading because we’re about to tell you everything you need to know.
Three Risk Factors for Glaucoma
To understand the health benefits of THC for glaucoma patients, you first need to know a few things about this condition. Particularly, it’s important to understand glaucoma’s biggest risk factors.
We’re talking about three of them next, so keep reading.
Consider this: only 1% of people under the age of 80 have glaucoma. But the percentage of people with glaucoma rises to more than 9% when you look at the over 80 demographic.
Why is this? Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but they speculate that the aging process increases the risk for glaucoma.
Certain racial identities also increase the risk for glaucoma. For example, black Americans over the age of 80 are 1% more likely to develop glaucoma than older adults of different racial identities.
Caribbean individuals of African descent have an even greater risk. Within this racial group, 25% of people aged 80 or over suffer from glaucoma.
3. Intraocular Pressure
Intraocular pressure is what gives our eyeballs their ship. Pressure gets maintained by the flow of fluids from the front of the eyeball to the cornea.
When there’s a blockage in the eye, these fluids can build up in the cornea. This fluid buildup leads to increased pressure behind the eye.
At the same time, this blockage restricts fluid from flowing into the optic nerve. The optic nerve is part of the brain. It plays an essential role in relaying visual cues from the eye to part of the brain that processes sight.
But when blockage reduces flow to the optic nerve, scientists suspect that a second problem occurs. The optic nerve no longer receives a steady supply of nutrients. Without these nutrients, the optic nerve begins to decay.
Since the optic nerve is critical for vision, its breakdown leads to glaucoma and eventual blindness.
The Connection Between Glaucoma and THC
Unfortunately, cannabis can’t turn back time. It also has no effect on the race component that increases the risk for developing glaucoma. So how exactly can THC help with glaucoma?
Researchers have discovered that medical marijuana affects intraocular pressure. As we’ve mentioned, this is one of the most significant risk factors for developing glaucoma. It’s also the only risk factor we can control.
How Medical Cannabis Lowers Intraocular Pressure
Since the 1970s, researchers have known that people who smoke marijuana have lower intraocular pressure. In fact, some studies have shown that THC can alleviate eye pressure as well as traditional glaucoma medications.
Ingesting, inhaling, and administering marijuana by IV all have the same benefits for intraocular pressure. However, studies in which researchers applied topical THC eye drops showed no effect on internal eye pressure.
How does THC do it? Researchers aren’t actually sure. We need more research to learn about medical marijuana’s mechanism of action for relieving intraocular pressure.
The Downside of Medical Marijuana Benefits for Glaucoma
Medical marijuana is an excellent solution for patients who can’t tolerate traditional glaucoma medications. However, medical marijuana may not be right for everyone with glaucoma.
One of the biggest drawbacks to using THC for glaucoma prevention is its short window of effect. Smoking, eating, or injecting THC can reduce intraocular pressure for 3–4 hours. Then, you have to use medical marijuana again.
Another factor to consider is the side effects of using THC. Some people can’t tolerate marijuana’s characteristic euphoria or “high.” And this same high means cannabis products present the risk of dependence and addiction.
Plus, if you choose to inhale your medical cannabis, you still have to worry about the negative effects of smoking. Smoking exposes your lungs to toxic chemicals like carbon monoxide, which can cause adverse health effects.
Is Medical Marijuana for Glaucoma Legal?
There’s one drawback to using THC for glaucoma that we haven’t mentioned: its legality.
To use cannabis for glaucoma, you have to live in a state where weed is legal or where glaucoma is an approved condition for a medical marijuana card.
At least 25 US states have approved medical marijuana for glaucoma. Lucky for you, Florida is one of them.
Florida Medical Marijuana Laws
Recreational cannabis is illegal in Florida. However, some people can get a medical marijuana card for qualifying conditions, including:
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
To get a medical marijuana card for glaucoma, you first have to see a state-certified medical marijuana physician like the Herbal Clinic MD. Our doctors will review your symptoms and medical history to determine your needs.
Once your physician approves you, all you have to do is register for a card online. Your medical marijuana card will allow you to purchase medical marijuana for glaucoma from a qualifying dispensary.
Get Medical Marijuana in Tampa
So, what’s the deal with glaucoma and THC? Medical marijuana can help reduce intraocular pressure, which is a top risk factor for glaucoma. If you live in Florida and have glaucoma, you can get a medical marijuana card.
Are you looking for a reputable medical marijuana doctor in the Tampa area? Contact us to schedule your visit with our qualified medical marijuana prescribing physicians.