Medical Marijuana for Glaucoma

August 15, 2020
Cannabis and Glaucoma
Cannabis and Glaucoma

What is the efficacy of Medical Marijuana for Glaucoma?

A review of prescriptions and uses shows that Glaucoma is a top reason people are seeking out and using medical marijuana. While this may initially be surprising, a quick intro to the topic suggests this shouldn’t be, since it’s a condition that affects so many people, and is the second leading cause of blindness globally, behind cataracts. Typically the condition is treated with eye drops, designed to reduce the pressure in the eyes, but more and more interest in using medical marijuana is being seen, especially since marijuana is known for it’s ability to reduce inflammation.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the optic nerve ends up being harmed over time, first lowering peripheral vision before potentially causing overall loss of sight. One cause of optic nerve damage in glaucoma is higher-than-normal eye pressure (intraocular pressure or IOP).

According to the National Eye Institute:

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness by damaging a nerve in the back of your eye called the optic nerve.

The symptoms can start so slowly that you may not notice them. The only way to find out if you have glaucoma is to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

There’s no cure for glaucoma, but early treatment can often stop the damage and protect your vision.

Marijuana and Glaucoma

As marijuana has been legalized for medical or leisure usage in more U.S. states and Canada, it has actually ended up being more noticeable and talked about as a possible treatment for many health conditions. Research study in the 1970s and 1980s did show a measurable reduction in intraocular pressure for three or four hours after cigarette smoking marijuana or consuming THC as a pill or injection. But to deal with glaucoma and save vision, eye pressure needs to be managed 24 hours a day.

To lower intraocular pressure by 3 to 5 mm Hg– and preserve that reduction– you would have to ingest about 18 to 20 mg of THC 6 to 8 times a day, every day. In addition, the cost of utilizing cannabis every three to four hours, every day makes it cost-prohibitive for many clients.

As a contrast, alcohol likewise has a moderate intraocular pressure-lowering result for an hour or two after a drink. No medical professional would advise that you consume alcohol every hour to deal with glaucoma. Lots of other efficient treatments are available that do not have the side-effects of alcohol.

Advances and the Future

While there is controversy over the use of medical marijuana to treat glaucoma, the objections come from the additional interactions and side effects, as well as the duration of the benefits when considered for smoking marijuana.

This is a limited viewpoint, and as medical marijuana research and delivery formats continue to grow and evolve, as well as different studies with strains and combinations, the use of cannabis to treat glaucoma, to effect the reduction in pressure needed for longer periods of times, is likely.


Yes, medical marijuana can help glaucoma by reducing the intraocular pressure. This is particularly helpful for those sufferers who are not finding any or enough relief from the use of eye drops, the standard treatment for glaucoma. Because the research has focused on the logistics, the short term effects of medical marijuana, and the need to continually consume the product, just as a patient must do with eye drops, the concern is over the practicality and the additional side effects and conditions associated with the use of marijuana.

Talk to your doctor and healthcare professional to get the best options and solutions that work for you and your needs.

Research and Science