Medical Marijuana and Glaucoma

Patients often ask us if medical marijuana is an acceptable treatment for glaucoma. This notion arises from studies in the 1970’s sponsored by the National Eye Institute (division of the NIH) that showed that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana could lower intraocular pressure (IOP). However, the effect of the IOP lowering is short-lived, and the rebound increase in IOP is damaging to the optic nerve, as fluctuations in IOP are dangerous to the optic nerve. In order for marijuana to be an acceptable treatment, it would have to be used 8 times a day without interruption! With such a high amount of use, the decreased level of alertness and effect on the lungs in much too dangerous. So while marijuana can temporarily lower your IOP, it is NOT recommended to treat glaucoma of any form.

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