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Medical Marijuana and Conjunctivitis

What Is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis occurs when the eyelid lining swells. The swelling can happen for a number of reasons. These include infection, disease, parasites and allergies. Some sexually transmitted diseases can also cause conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is closely related and often referred to as "pink eye," which is essentially the same symptoms caused by a viral infection in the conjunctiva (eyelid lining).  The symptoms of conjunctivitis range from cosmetic to slightly debilitating. The most telltale symptom is redness in one or both eyes. The eyeball itself may be bloodshot and the edges of the eyelid red and swollen. While sleeping, the affected eye will typically form a crust, making it difficult to open the eye without a warm compress to clean it off of the eyelid and out of the eyelashes. There is usually pain and itching in the affected eye or eyes and it will likely produce more tears than usual. Conjunctivitis can make it feel somewhat like there is sandpaper in the eyelids when blinking and light can cause discomfort.

Medical Marijuana and Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis and Medical Marijuana Uses 

The cause of conjunctivitis will dictate what treatment a doctor prescribes. Viruses have no cure, but anti-bacterial drops and antibiotics can fight other types of infection. Medical marijuana can provide palliative care by reducing inflammation and relieving pain. However, it is important to note that marijuana, in it purest forms, causes eyes to become bloodshot and irritated. Therefore, it can increase those symptoms in many cases of conjunctivitis. It may be necessary to discuss how to ingest medical marijuana so this side effect is not produced. There may also be types of marijuana that are less irritating to the eye. Doctors who prescribe this medication should be able to provide advice on these subjects. 

Medical Marijuana and Conjunctivitis Pain 

One of the most irritating and noticeable symptoms of conjunctivitis is pain. The affected eye becomes tender to the touch and may ache, even when no pressure is applied. Medical marijuana can help with this. It has properties that reduce sensitivity to pain. This pain relief is not powerful enough to substitute for opiate pain relievers in severe cases of pain. However, it can certainly relieve the mild to moderate pain that comes with conjunctivitis. Animal trials have shown conclusively that pain can be alleviated with cannabinoids. This includes pain due to inflammation, which is what occurs in cases of conjunctivitis. These animal trials show that pain due to inflammation is alleviated by cannabinoids because inflammation was the cause of pain in some of the test animals. They exhibited behavior associated with relief from their pain. 

Human trials have shown the same results as animal trials. Studies by the University of California, San Francisco showed drastic reduction in pain relieving doses of opiates in patients who were taking their medication with medical marijuana. Other studies have shown that a moderate dose of marijuana can relieve pain, but the dose has to be right, as too much smoked marijuana seemed to actually increase pain. Medical marijuana is not the only pain reliever known to do that. 

Medical Marijuana and Inflammation Related to Conjunctivitis 

The cause of the discomfort associated with conjunctivitis is the swelling of the eyelid lining. This can be combated by anti-inflammatory medication. Research into medical marijuana and digestive disorders has shown that medical marijuana can alleviate inflammation in the digestive system. It also reduces inflammation of the skin, according to anecdotal evidence. These anti-inflammatory properties appear to be able to work without use of endocannabinoid receptors, which are the main system in which medical marijuana works. It appears that the pain relieving properties of medical marijuana may be able to do this also. If so, they can relieve pain and inflammation in areas of the body that do not contain endocannabinoid receptors. 

Medical Marijuana and Conjunctivitis Itching 

One study reportedly showed that medical marijuana can relieve itching. Twenty-five hundred people with itching were given medical marijuana to relieve itching caused by eczema. It eliminated the eczema within three weeks for more than 38% of those individuals. More importantly for those suffering from conjunctivitis, it was able to relieve itching in those individuals and provide some relief for roughly half of the individuals who participated.

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