Glaucoma is an eye condition that progressively causes vision loss. Classified by the Glaucoma Research Foundation as the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the U.S, focused studies have evaluated the efficiency of phytochemicals present in cannabis in treating this condition. CBD has been proven to have neuroprotective properties that can inhibit the progression of glaucoma. And experts have explored the fascinating ways CBD oil can work for glaucoma to prevent vision loss, especially when detected at an early stage. Here, we evaluate the benefits of using CBD for glaucoma treatment.
Glaucoma is a complex eye disorder that progressively damages the optic nerve, leading to eventual loss of vision. The damage to the optic nerve, which is the primary sensory nerve responsible for visualization, gradually leads to blindness. And according to the National Eye Institute (NEI), over 3 million people in the U.S had glaucoma in 2018. That number is expected to increase by 50% to over 4.5 million by the tip of this decade.
The NEI also revealed that this irreversible condition was prevalent in folks aged between 40 and 80 years. To date, medical science is yet to establish a curative treatment for glaucoma. But early detection and subsequent introduction of neuroprotective treatments can restrict the damage to the optic nerve and inhibit the progression of this eye disease. And in that regard, several studies have been conducted to determine the efficiency of CBD – a phytochemical extracted from cannabis – in treating glaucoma.
What are the Causes of Glaucoma?
The development of glaucoma is linked to the degeneration of the optic nerve cells – a disorder that its origin is yet to be established. And according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. That said, its development is linked to the following causes:
- Death of optic nerve cells.
- Increased intraocular pressure (IOP – eye pressure), thereby obstructing blood flow, limiting the oxygen supply to the eye, and accumulation of metabolic toxins.
- Pressure build-up within the eye damages the optic nerve.
- Family history or genetic glaucoma.
- A dysfunctional immune system that erroneously attacks heat shock proteins present in the optic nerve of the retina.
Glaucoma and CBD Oil
Although people associate glaucoma with old age, it is a progressive disease that can affect all ages. The condition can dramatically blur or do away with your vision. But when detected earlier, neuroprotective therapies such as CBD can be used to inhibit progression. Presently, glaucoma has no cure, but researchers are linking CBD use to glaucoma prevention. Meaning, folks with glaucoma can incorporate CBD into their routines and prevent this disorder. Besides, it is a natural, pure, and non-psychoactive substance that patients can take without worrying about the mind-altering effects associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to regulate homeostasis and promote certain biological functions in the human body. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network of receptors in the brain, spine, digestive system, central nervous system, etc. When activated by cannabinoids, it can slow down the process of nerve cell degeneration in the retina’s optic nerve, which causes glaucoma.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
The symptoms of glaucoma progressively get worse with age and from the time the condition is diagnosed. And a lack of preventive treatment can eventually lead to total loss of vision. Some common symptoms of glaucoma include:
- presence of blind spots within the central vision.
- Marked visual disturbance.
- Development of tunnel vision, especially at the advanced stage of the disease.
- Eye pain.
- Blurred vision.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Redness in the eyes.
- Extreme radiance when lights are turned on.
Conventional Treatment of Glaucoma
There are multiple options available to treat and prevent glaucoma, including eye drops, laser procedures, and surgery. Of the three mentioned above, laser procedures are the most common preventive mechanisms for glaucoma, but they don’t come without their risks.
- The most common side effects for those using eye drops include eye surface irritation, eye discomfort, darkening of the eyelid skin, droopy eyelids, drowsiness, eye redness, and intolerance.
- The downside of opting for laser procedures is that this preventive treatment can temporarily ease eye IOP (eye pressure). That means it doesn’t offer a long-term solution as eye pressure soon builds up.
- The patient will have to deal with temporary vision disruptions during the healing process, excessive bleeding, and the overall increased risk of other eye infections for surgical procedures.
The side effects and risks mentioned above are associated with the conventional medications of glaucoma. That’s why doctors and patients alike are on the lookout for alternative methods to treat and prevent the development of glaucoma.
CBD for the Reversal and Prevention of Glaucoma
The procedures mentioned above are meant to ease eye pressure. And while that works okay for some patients, many often can’t tolerate the side effects of eye drops, laser procedures, and surgery. However, CBD is a phytochemical present in cannabis that researchers have established properties that could benefit people with glaucoma.
Benefits of CBD for Glaucoma
Worldwide, glaucoma affects over 60 million individuals. And researchers point out that both CBD and THC can lower intra-visual weight – a key driver of glaucoma. The type of glaucoma that CBD has well been documented to treat is called essential glaucoma, which involves gradual damage to the optic nerve in the retina. This type of glaucoma corrupts an individual’s visual field, leading to the eventual loss of vision.
By doing so, CBD acts on the endocannabinoid system to perform essential regulatory functions in the body. And the CB1 receptors that are present in the central nervous system initiate chemical reactions when they come into contact with CBD. This activation regulates the nerve function in the optic nerve of the retina, hence inhibiting cellular degeneration linked to glaucoma. Besides, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve eye pain, which is a symptom of glaucoma.
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