What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages and destroys the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and blindness if left untreated. It results from increased fluid pressure in the eye, causing it to swell and pressure your optic nerve. This pressure can cause a gradual loss of sight if it is not treated early enough.
Some 60 million people worldwide are affected by glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness.
In the US alone, glaucoma affects 3 million people, with 60% of people over the age of 75 being affected by it. In most cases, it develops slowly over time and can go undetected for long periods.
Glaucoma is also more common in people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of glaucoma. In most cases, there are no symptoms of glaucoma, and people with it often do not know they have it until vision loss or irreversible damage has already occurred.
The most common glaucoma symptoms include headaches, halos around lights, red eyes, watery eyes, eye pain, blurred vision, narrowed vision (tunnel vision), blind spots, and vision loss.
Worryingly, there are no pharmaceutical treatments that can cure or stop the progression of glaucoma. The symptoms can be managed by lowering intraocular pressure (IOP) through eye drops or surgery.
These treatments though, come with their side effects and risks. For example, eye drops may sting or cause blurred vision, while surgery carries the risk of infection and bleeding. Some patients find that their intraocular pressure still does not decrease enough after using these treatments for several years—and some may even experience vision loss despite using them consistently over time.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound that can be extracted from cannabis and hemp plants, and it is one of over 100 cannabinoids that have been identified so far. CBD does not produce a high as marijuana does, so it is legal for use in all 50 states. In fact, because CBD does not get you high, it is often used to treat anxiety, other mental health conditions, and physical conditions as well, like glaucoma.
CBD’s role in helping patients with glaucoma symptoms
CBD has been shown to have several positive effects on glaucoma patients, including reducing IOP (Intraocular Pressure), reducing symptoms of pain and discomfort caused by increased pressure within the eye, increasing blood flow to the optic nerve, which helps maintain healthy vision, relieving inflammation in the eye tissue around the optic nerve and reducing swelling around the optic nerve which leads to retinal damage.
The British Journal of Opthalmology study shows that CBD helps relieve glaucoma symptoms by lowering intraocular pressure, or IOP, the main culprit behind glaucoma symptoms. It does this by inhibiting adenosine uptake into cells. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that increases blood flow in the eyes when it binds to receptors on retinal ganglion cells within the retina. This reduction can be as much as 25% in people with glaucoma.
CBD also acts as a vasodilator, decreasing IOP by relaxing the blood vessels in your eyes. This reduces the amount of fluid entering your eyes, lowering the pressure inside them.
Eye pain is another common symptom of glaucoma, and CBD is effective at treating pain. It has been shown to act as an analgesic, similar to opioids like morphine and codeine, but without any of the dangerous side effects or addictive potential. CBD works by binding to CB2 receptors in your eyes, which are responsible for reducing neuropathic pain and inflammation.
These same anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties also help with reducing headaches, which is another common symptom of glaucoma. This is important because reducing the amount of pain and headaches that you feel makes it easier for you to go about your daily life without constantly worrying about how much damage has already been done by the disease.
As you can see, CBD is a powerful treatment for glaucoma. It is effective at reducing IOP and providing pain relief because it has anti-inflammatory properties that are able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. This means that it does not just work on your eyes but on your entire body as well.
Various ways to use CBD for Glaucoma:
- CBD can be used in a variety of forms to treat glaucoma. You can use CBD oil, and CBD gummies, or even add CBD oil to your favorite drink. The best option is to speak with your doctor about which method will work best for you.
- The most common way to use CBD oil is by taking a few drops under the tongue each day. This allows it to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream and provides relief faster than other methods of consumption.
- You can also take CBD gummies. These are easier than using tinctures because they do not require any preparation before you consume them, but they do take longer for their effects to be felt due to how long it takes for them to get through the digestive system before being absorbed into the bloodstream where they will then reach their intended receptors in your brain and eyes.
- Another option is to add CBD oil to your favorite drink. This allows you to get the benefits of CBD without having to taste it directly, which can be a problem for some people.
- You can also read our blog The Best Time to Take CBD Oil for more information.
With all of that said, the benefits of CBD for glaucoma patients are real and apparent. There is evidence to suggest that the use of CBD can dramatically reduce the pressure on the optic nerve, which affects how much vision will be lost in a person who has glaucoma, and also reduce intraocular pressure, helping mitigate eye pain and headaches. While it cannot cure glaucoma, it may slow the process slightly, which is certainly helpful for people who want to maintain their sight as long as possible. Finally, there are some antispasmodic effects of CBD that could help to relieve pain and inflammation in the eyes, further helping to mitigate any damage caused by glaucoma.