Years of research, studies, articles and legislative changes have led to cannabis being more readily accepted and recognized as a beneficial treatment for a myriad of health conditions. From chronic pain all the way to the simplest of skin irritations, it seems that there is a general increase in demand for the plant to replace some of the more traditional and harmful medications out there.
But just how far can cannabis go when it comes to our health? Over the years marijuana has been looked upon as an effective treatment for Glaucoma, and it has in fact been legalized to treat this condition across most states in America. So is it possible that the plant could do more when it comes to our eyesight?
In this article, we are going to explore the facts behind marijuana and eyesight, in order to try and discover the truth when it comes to the plant’s abilities to make us see better!
A Little About The Plant Itself
Before we dive into the argument for cannabis as a means to improve eyesight, it is first necessary to take a look at the marijuana plant itself. With the flower gaining so much credibility across the healthcare world in the past decade or so, it is likely that you already have a good idea about some of the general benefits of the plant. However, for those who are new to the wide world of weed, here is a brief run-down of our favorite herb:
- Cannabis has been around for hundreds of thousands of years, and has been used as medicine since at least 2,000 BC.
- While it is true that marijuana will get you ‘high,’ this is all down to the active cannabinoid Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
- Along with THC, the cannabis plant contains over 100 other cannabinoids, all of which play their part in our health.
- One of the most well-known cannabinoids (along with THC) is Cannabidiol, or CBD, which is non-psychoactive and medicinally beneficial.
- Cannabis works with our endocannabinoid system, which is in charge of regulating some of the most vital bodily functions.
- When consumed, cannabis binds to different cannabinoid receptors around the body, which brings about a host of positive benefits.
- Marijuana can be smoked, vaporized, consumed in an edible form, capsule, isolate, or applied as a topical cream for muscle soreness and arthritis!
Cannabis and Eyesight; The Facts
When we look at the studies that have been carried out into cannabis and our eyesight, the evidence is quite lacking. While there have been a few studies done, there is not yet enough evidence to out-and-out say that smoking marijuana is a means of improving vision.
That being said, we do know categorically that cannabis is a legal treatment for Glaucoma across many states in America, which is a promising start! So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what we know first and foremost about weed and Glaucoma.
Cannabis for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye condition that affects approximately 2.7 million Americans over the age of 40. The disease is degenerative; meaning that over time it can lead to loss of vision, complete blindness and cataracts.
Glaucoma explicitly affects the optic nerve, which transports visual data to the brain. Pressure build-up within the eye (known as intraocular pressure or IOP) can deteriorate this nerve and the surrounding tissue over time, which drastically impairs sight and can even lead to blindness.
So where does cannabis play a part here? While it is true and relatively common knowledge that marijuana can be used to treat Glaucoma, there are pros and cons to using the plant over more traditional glaucoma medicines.
The American Glaucoma Society themselves recognize the potential in marijuana, as it has been proven to reduce intraocular pressure which is one of the main risk factors of the condition. However, they make the valid point that while it has been proven to reduce pressure in the eye, it is also just a temporary fix and lasts only 3-4 hours.
Due to cannabis’ short-lived effects when it comes to glaucoma, there is an argument that patients would be required to repeatedly consume weed at regular intervals to keep up with treatment, which for many is not feasible.
The other obvious downside to using cannabis for glaucoma is the psychoactive element. For those using the herb every 3-4 hours as a glaucoma treatment, it would mean that they would be unable to legally drive or operate machinery. Of course, this could easily cause interruptions in their day-to-day life.
Can Cannabis Slow Down Blindness?
While there are some promising studies out there for marijuana and glaucoma, research exploring other relationships between cannabis and eye health are still very much in their infancy. However, there have been a few publications on the topic over the past several years that are worth looking into!
One university in Alicante, Spain, for example, conducted an animal study using a synthetic form of THC on rats to try and determine whether or not the active compound could slow down (or even completely reverse) onset blindness. The animal models all suffered from retinitis pigmentosa, which is a degenerative disease that results in complete blindness in most instances. Results of the study showed that the active THC compound did indeed prevent vision loss in all animal subjects, even the ones that were experiencing latter stage symptoms of the disease.
While these results are incredibly promising, there has yet to be a similar study carried out on humans, so for now we can’t quite claim that marijuana prevents blindness! With further research, however, it would be no stretch of the imagination to say that cannabis may be an effective treatment for general eye health – great news for diabetics, stroke victims, and other individuals who struggle with chronic eyesight conditions.
Can Cannabis Improve Our Vision?
So we know cannabis plays a hand in treating the most common eye condition in the world: Glaucoma. But can marijuana improve our eyesight? A couple of Fishermen would tell you that it absolutely could!
Way back in 2004, a group of Moroccan fishermen claimed that they were better able to see during their nighttime fishing after smoking pot! The group would smoke weed heavily before beginning a night out at sea, and throughout the darkness of their surroundings, they claimed that cannabis assisted their overall vision. Following these claims, a group of researchers conducted several tests to see if there was any truth behind the anecdote, and there indeed was!
As it turned out, the more stoned the volunteers got, the better their eyesight became! Of course, the fatal flaw in this is that to get the best results, you would need to get pretty high! This may sound like fun for a lot of people out there, but for others it could be detrimental on a day-to-day basis!
Final Thoughts on Marijuana and Eyesight
So, can cannabis improve our eyesight? So far the results from studies have been promising, and it is certainly not something we can rule out yet! However, it seems as though we are a long way off from finding any reliable solution in terms of cannabis use and eye degeneration. As is the case with most research on medical marijuana, we will need advanced clinical trials on actual humans in order to make any kind of claim that weed does indeed work to prevent blindness – or at the very least, improve our overall eye health.
While it is undeniable that THC can do great things for our eyes in more ways than one, the combination of the psychoactive response and the relatively short-lived effects would make it a less-than-appealing treatment option for many individuals. However, we will certainly be watching this space for continued research, and will be keeping our fingers crossed for the possibility of actual clinical trials to show up!