Glaucoma is an eye condition that is currently the second leading cause of blindness in the world. It should be noted that the risk of developing glaucoma increases with age. In fact, according to medical studies, it is estimated that 1 in 40 people over 40 years old is affected by this disease and, after 75 years old, one in 15. This means 10% of blindness is caused by glaucoma.
A characteristic of this disease is the slow deterioration of the optic nerve. It is a slow process, and in general, does not produce pain. Is normally detected when the nerve is damaged and blindness has begun.
The deterioration of the optic nerve is due to an increase in intraocular pressure, normally between 10 and 20 mmHg. An increase greater than this value, is often due to a disorder in drainage of the liquid humor of the anterior chamber of the eye. This causes of 30 or 40 mmHg or more, that can lead to glaucoma.
An acute attack of glaucoma can be detected by a nuisance flow of water in the eye, which can appear in a matter of hours and is followed by severe pain. The pressure is transmitted through the vitreous body (a gelatinous mass that gives the eye its round shape) to the optic nerve, which suffers pressure damage and can gradually be destroyed if it is not treated in time.
In 30% or 40% of glaucoma sufferers, optic nerve damage appears without being attributable to the increase in intraocular pressure. These cases are named “normal pressure glaucoma”. The exact cause that produces it is not yet known; however, it is assumed that an important factor is a blood flow disorder of the vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the optic nerve.
Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops or surgery (with a laser intervention) whose objective is to favor the flow of water in the chamber. The medications used for glaucoma are not in all cases well tolerated and the operation is not always successful. Many of these people choose to use cannabis to deal with their disease.
Many cannabinoid receptors exist in the eye so THC, in the form of eye drops has been effective. To avoid the psychic side effects, the local application of THC cannabis in the form of drops is customary.
THC and other cannabinoids are not soluble in water, so it is difficult to determine an appropriate mixture for this purpose. Also, local application has not always yielded the expected results so until now, THC eye drops have not been authorized for medicinal use.
How does cannabis treat glaucoma?
Some experiments have shown that THC reduces the production of water in the eye chamber and promotes its flow. Together with the reduction of intraocular pressure, cannabinoids can assist nerve strengthening and dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow.
Cannabinoids also protect the nerves by capturing free radicals and inhibiting excessive glutamate production. The latter is a neurotransmitter that is produced in excess when there is a deficiency of blood flow. Consequently the lack of oxygen and glucose supply contributes to create a toxic medium that can lead to an advanced degeneration of the optic nerve.
Therefore, cannabinoids can help in the case of normal pressure glaucoma. Also it is good to reduce intraocular pressure below normal values.
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