Friday, October 10, 2014

The Benefits of Cannabis for Glaucoma Treatment

Glaucoma is conditions in the eye that damages the optic nerve and can lead to blindness. The optic nerve carries visual information to the brain. Damage to the nerve is primarily caused by an increase of pressure to the eye, called intraocular pressure (IOP).(Source)

Cannabinoids found in cannabis have been successfully found to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) and have neuroprotective properties. Helper and Frank in 1971 did a study that showed a 25-30% IOP and a reduction in blood pressure.(Source) An increase in usage of marijuana led to better tolerance, resulting a further reduction of IOP for patients that could take a higher dosage. (Source) A study by Dawson et al showed that long term use of marijuana of 10 years or more gave results as beginning users for reducing IOP, lowering the effectivness.(Source)

Studies have shown that cannabinoids work to reduce IOP at the localized eye area, not the central nervous system. Topical applications around the eye of cannabinoids show to reduce IOP the same amount as smoke or ingested. (Source) Cannabinoids effect the CB1 receptors, and these have been found in the ocular tissues, ciliary epithelium, the trabecular meshwork, Schlemm’s canal, ciliary muscle, ciliary body vessels, and retina. (Source) Cannabinoids also effect the CB2 receptors, but a study found that these receptors played no role in the IOP.(source)

Other theories about how cannabis reducing IOP have been researched, but not fully understood. The reduction of IOP does not seem to be from smoking cannabis resulting in lowering of the blood pressure.(Source) Studies have proposed however that the reduction in capillary pressure helps to reduce IOP. (Source) Sugrue did a study that showed that cannabinoids reduce the release of calcium which can help reduce IOP. (Source) Porcella et al also has a theory that cannabinoids acting as vasodilators by widening the blood vessels help to release the pressure on the eye. (Source)

Application of Cannabis for desired treatment of glaucoma has shown to be through smoking it, however for a non psychoactive method topical treatments are being developed. Unfortunately eye drops only deliver 5% of the medicine, due to the optical nerve being at the back of the eye. Other delivery methods are being researched with Porcella et al showing that cyclodextrins being the most effective thus far.(Source)

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