Doctor, what about marajuana, can it be used to treat my glaucoma? You’d be amazed how often this question is asked, and sometimes from the most unlikely of patients. You might also be surprised to learn this does not stem from an “urban myth or tale” but is based on scientific research. Yes indeed, the benefit of marajuana for the management of glaucoma has been studied. This research, conducted mainly in the USA, provided some hope that it might be of benefit for glaucoma management and is probably the source of constant enquiry about its use. However, close inspection of the data shows that marajuana is not likely to help any time soon. This is because:
1. Marajuana lowers intra-ocular pressure and this is the mechanism via which it has potential to help glaucoma. However, the intra-ocular pressure reduction is short lived and insufficient for long term intra-ocular pressure control.
2. The dose of marajuana required to achieve a meaningful intra-ocular pressure reduction is very high.
3. To achieve a sustained and meaningful intra-ocular pressure reduction, a user would have to take high doses very frequently. The end result is likely to be delirium or more long-term mental illness such as psychosis or depression. Further more, long-term and high-dose marajuana use is associated with a higher incidence of suicide.
4. Marajuana use is illegal in Australia and many other countries of the world and cannot be recommended as a therapy for glaucoma in those jurisdictions.
So at this time the answer to the opening question is No.
- Posted By Dr Colin Clement