What’s Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a gradual loss of vision cased by damage to the optic nerve. It comes in several varieties, but essentially the culprit is increased interocular pressure (IOP) caused by a build up of fluid in the eye. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60.
What Is Medical Marijuana Glaucoma Treatment? The discovery of cannabis’s glaucoma-fighting power was happy accident in the War on Drugs. In the early 1970a, a group of UCLA researchers, led by Drs. Robert Hepler and Thomas Ungerleider, began studying the telltale marijuana “red eye” and pupil dilation in hopes of somehow using the phenomena to help the DEA to narc out stoners. The real takeaway, however, was something not at all expected: Cannabis—particularly the THC in cannabis—reduced eye pressure by 25 to 30 percent. That result was as good as any produced by an FDA approved glaucoma medication. (In fact, it still is today.)
What’s the Catch? Unfortunately, the effect cannabis on IOP lasts only about three hours, and THC, the element most responsible for pressure relief, is also the most psychoactively potent. To be completely treated, you’d need to smoke six or seven joints a day. In other words, you’d be high all the time. (On the other hand, you might not be very high: THC’s depressurizing effect is not dose dependent, so weak bud is as effective in this case as the stoniest in your arsenal.)
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