Medicinal marijuana is not a new notion, but it is gaining in popularity as pot is becoming legalized in certain areas. Marijuana may be effective in treating glaucoma, but it may not be as effective as prescription eye drops, according to recent studies.
Glaucoma is a family of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve and is one of the leading causes of blindness. Over 2 million Americans are affected by glaucoma, but many do not experience any warning signs or symptoms until permanent vision loss has occurred.
Glaucoma patients ask for marijuana prescriptions because they think it will treat their condition, but this may not be practical. Survey author Dr. David Belyea, director of glaucoma services at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C, believes that eye doctors should educate their patients that marijuana is not the best treatment option.
Previous research defended marijuana’s ability to reduce intraocular pressure, but the effect is short-lived. Marijuana relieves eye pressure for only 3 to 4 hours, so one would have to smoke pot 8 to 10 times per day to sustain the lower eye pressure.
It is interesting to note that the severity of glaucoma did not affect whether a patient wanted to try marijuana. What did seem to influence the decision was if a person felt that he or she was not receiving quality care or if medication seemed too expensive.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology released a statement that said there is “no scientific benefit” for marijuana use in glaucoma, compared to other available medications. This certainly does not mean that glaucoma patients will stop asking for marijuana prescriptions. However, as doctors educate their patients on effective, sustainable treatments for glaucoma, patients can be more satisfied with their doctor’s recommendation for medication (Source: US News).