In Pennsylvania, glaucoma is one of the 23 qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card. While it may not be one of the most cited conditions for those seeking certification, it is one that we see quite often among our patients.
Basics of Glaucoma
A disease of the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, glaucoma can have very serious side effects. It can even cause massive vision loss and blindness. There are three types of glaucoma, each with their own set of symptoms. They include:
Open-Angle (chronic) Glaucoma
This type of glaucoma is chronic, non-progressive, and generally painless However, it does have the ability to threaten vision. Typically, this type of glaucoma is treated with medicated eye drops.
Closed-Angle (acute) Glaucoma
Opposite open-angle glaucoma, closed-angle has a quick and sudden onset lasting either a few hours or days. Due to the pressure it causes in the eye, it can produce side effects of pain and nausea.
This type of glaucoma is caused by an unidentifiable source that increases pressure in the eye. Such pressure results in damage to the optic nerve and vision loss.
How Medical Marijuana Might Help
One of the most uncomfortable side effects of the condition is high pressure within the eye, which is where medical marijuana might be able to help.
Existing research shows that cannabis, because of its ability to lower pressure, can be an effective treatment for glaucoma. Traditional treatments for the condition include prescription medications to relieve the pressure, laser treatments, or surgery. Most of the prescriptions for glaucoma come in the form of topical eye drops that help to lower pressure. However, many people do not react well to those medications and end up seeking out other treatments.
However, there are drawbacks to using medical marijuana to treat glaucoma, including the fact that depending on how you consume cannabis, effects may only last a few hours. To treat pain adequately, those using inhalation methods of medical marijuana will have to dose themselves every three hours.
At The Greener Institute, it is always our recommendation for those battling chronic pain—in this case caused by prolonged pressure in the eye—to consume cannabis through ingestibles. Methods of consumption may include pills, tinctures, sublinguals, or edibles (you’ll have to make your own in PA). Ingesting cannabis is processed through the liver and metabolized, meaning it is processed by our body much more slowly than if you were to inhale it. While it can take longer to take effect, ingesting cannabis will make the side effects last hours longer.