More On Medical Marijuana and Glaucoma
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 01/21/2011 in Medical Marijuana Conditions
Glaucoma is an incurable eye disease of the optic nerve that affects millions of Americans. In the early stages of the disease, there may be no symptoms. But in time, the disease causes blindness. Worldwide, glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.
Effective treatment for glaucoma involves the use of drugs or surgical procedures that prevent progressive optic nerve damage. The only method of accomplishing this is by lowering intraocular pressure (IOP)—which is one of the many benefits of medical marijuana. There are many studies that show this:
- Studies supported by the National Eye Institute in the 1970s showed that medical marijuana (or its components), when taken orally or via inhalation, can lower intraocular pressure.
- The Institute of Medicine’s Mar. 1999 report “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base” stated that “high intraocular pressure (IOP) is a known risk factor for glaucoma and can, indeed, be reduced by cannabinoids and marijuana.”
- A 2001 study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience found that a synthetic form of cannabis decreases the intraocular pressure in human glaucoma resistant to conventional therapies.
- In 2003, the American Academy of Ophthalmology released a position statement which said that “some derivatives of marijuana did result in lowering of IOP when administered orally, intravenously, or by smoking, but not when topically applied to the eye.”
But still the medicine is classified as a schedule 1 drug by the United States government, meaning it is not available for prescription.
For the lucky patients who live in the medical marijuana states that allow patients to use marijuana for the treatment of glaucoma, cannabis is a godsend. There is endless anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is an extremely effective medicine for glaucoma. In the meantime, we simply need more research before medical marijuana is accepted as a mainstream treatment for glaucoma. And major health organizations agree.
A committee commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recommended that research into the medical use of marijuana be permitted. Also, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Committee on Drugs believes that a long-term clinical study, designed to test the safety and efficacy of marijuana appears to be appropriate. And the American Academy of Ophthalmology Committee on Drugs maintains that a long-term clinical study is needed to test safety and effectiveness of marijuana.
Let’s hope that these tests happen sooner than later so that glaucoma patients across the country—not just the ones in medical marijuana states—can get access to this valuable medicine.