Glaucoma is a significant cause of blindness in the entire world. It has been ranked among the conditions that necessitate the use of medical cannabis in treatment. Several states in the United States have legalized the use of cannabinoids as a treatment. Glaucoma destroys the eye’s retina cells and breaks down the optic nerve, leading to patients’ blindness.
Other drugs have also been used to alleviate the condition, but medical cannabis(Marijuana) has also been studied extensively and is already used in some countries. There are several causes of Glaucoma: Intraocular pressure, age, and race. People aged 60 years and above have been known to have a higher risk than young people. Race also being a factor has led to studies being conducted among different races, and the findings have indicated an increased risk in Caribbean individuals.
Thirdly, elevated intraocular pressure is caused by a block in fluid flow that serves to keep the eye in its rigid shape. The fluid(aqueous humour) usually moves back and forth between the lens and the cornea. But in individuals with high intraocular pressure, the fluid flow gets obstructed, leading to pressure build-up. This then means the flow of nutrients to the eye’s optic nerve is hampered. While age and race factors cannot be controlled, elevated intraocular pressure can, which is why researchers have developed treatments to alleviate it.
Different drugs such as timolol, epinephrine, apraclonidine, and pilocarpine use other means to minimize the amount of fluid pressure. There also exist surgical methods for regulating intraocular pressure.
What about cannabis?
This is our area of interest today, even as governments ponder legalizing cannabis for medical purposes. Studies have shown that cannabinoids work just as well as other glaucoma medications by reducing intraocular pressure. Research has also shown that cannabis can be administered intravenously, through inhalation, and orally but not directly to the eye.
Both synthetic cannabinoid pills and injections of cannabis in their natural form have been examined and indicated a reduction in IOP in healthy and glaucoma patients. Trials that used a single dose of cannabinoids stated that it could maintain the effect for up to four hours.
While the findings from clinical trials indicate the effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of glaucoma, scientists have not conclusively explained how it reduces intraocular pressure(IOP).
While they have been documented as effective,cannabis-based treatments have a fair share of drawbacks. For instance, the effects cannabis smokers get after smoking or inhaling it can be felt by patients or individuals using it for medical purposes. This is incredibly uncomfortable for ageing individuals. Some individuals showed increased heart rate after taking the medication.
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