There are a number of ways to treat glaucoma. While some people may experience side effects from glaucoma medications or glaucoma surgery, the risks of side effects should always be balanced with the greater risk of leaving glaucoma untreated and losing vision.
If you have glaucoma, preserving your vision requires strong teamwork between you and your doctor. Your doctor can prescribe treatment, but it’s important to do your part by following your treatment plan closely. Be sure to take your medications as prescribed and see your ophthalmologist regularly.
Does marijuana help treat glaucoma?
The main objective in treating glaucoma is to lower intraocular pressure (or “IOP”) in the eye. A lower IOP can reduce damage to the optic nerve and save your remaining vision. Marijuana has been proven to lower IOP but only for a short period of time and at considerable risk to your overall health.
When marijuana is smoked or when the active ingredient is ingested in some other manner, the pressure-lowering effect within the eye can last from 3 to 4 hours. This period of time is too short, as glaucoma needs to be treated 24 hours a day. Additional drawbacks include the impaired functioning that results from smoking marijuana and the potential harmful effects of prolonged use.
The Academy does not recommend marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma. Considering the more effective treatments available to patients—from prescription medication to surgical procedures—the risks and side-effects of marijuana treatment far outweigh its modest short-term benefits, which do not properly control IOP.