CBD Oil for Glaucoma: How Does it Work?

Find out the truth
MarijuanaBreak Staff MarijuanaBreak Staff / Updated on July 2, 2019

CBD for Glaucoma

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, an estimated three million Americans suffer from the eye condition and half of them are unaware of their issue. It is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, and 10% of people with the condition experience loss of vision – even when they get the proper treatment.

In the U.S. alone, glaucoma accounts for up to 12% of all cases of blindness.

It is especially prevalent amongst African-Americans, who are up to eight times more likely to become blind from glaucoma than Caucasians. Despite all of the above, a 2002 Prevent Blindness America Survey uncovered a shocking fact: 30% of people had never heard of glaucoma!

Moreover, 50% of those surveyed had heard of the condition but were unsure of what it was. Let’s try and put that right straight away, and see whether or not CBD oil for glaucoma may perhaps be a long-term treatment option.

What Is Glaucoma?

Also known as the ‘silent thief of sight’, glaucoma is an eye disease which involves the fluid pressure in the eye rising. If you fail to treat it in time, it can cause a loss of vision and even permanent blindness. In primary glaucoma cases, the cause is largely unknown. In secondary glaucoma cases, however, the condition has a known cause such as diabetes, inflammation, a cataract, or a tumor.

Risk factors of glaucoma include:

  • Old age.
  • Illnesses or condition such as hypothyroidism.
  • Eye surgery.
  • Myopia.
  • Eye injuries.
  • Ethnic background (African-Americans, Hispanics, and East Asians are at greater risk than Caucasians).

Also, did you know that there are several types of glaucoma?

Open-Angle Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma affects up to 95% of people with the condition. Initially, there are no symptoms and it occurs because the drainage canal of the eyes get clogged over time, leading to increased pressure buildup. This intraocular pressure – or IOP, as it’s called – increases because the right amount of fluid cannot properly drain out of the eye.

If you have open-angle glaucoma, the drainage canal entrances are working properly,  but there will be a clog deep inside the canals. The condition develops slowly and you may not experience any loss of vision for years. If you can catch it early, medication can help treat the condition.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Also called narrow-angle or acute glaucoma, this condition is relatively rare and involves eye pressure that rises rapidly and without warning. The drainage canals become blocked because the iris is not as wide as it is in a healthy eye. The iris’ outer edge bunches up over the canals when the pupil enlarges too fast or too much (such as when you suddenly enter a dark room from a bright outside area).

Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include eye pain, nausea, headaches, and blurred vision. You are more likely to catch Angle-Closure glaucoma than its Open-Angle “equivalent,” but in most cases treatment involves surgery to remove some of the outer edges of the iris.

Other Types of Glaucoma

The two glaucoma types we have mentioned above comprise the vast majority of cases. There are however some rare forms of the condition, which include:

  • Normal Tension Glaucoma
  • Secondary Glaucoma
  • Pseudoexfoliative Glaucoma
  • Pigmentary Glaucoma
  • Congenital Glaucoma
  • Traumatic Glaucoma
  • Irido Corneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)
  • Neovascular Glaucoma

What Are the Most Common Glaucoma Treatments?

Several forms of glaucoma involve surgery in an attempt to fix the issue.

When it comes to Open-Angle glaucoma, though, eyedrops are the most commonly prescribed option.

There are various types of medicated eyedrops that are specifically formulated to treat glaucoma, including:

  • Beta-blockers
  • Cholinergic agents
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
  • Prostaglandin Analogues

These medications tend to work in different ways. For example, beta blockers like Timolol work by decreasing the production of fluid that leads to increased IOP. Prostaglandin analogs such as Xalatan and Travatan increase the outflow of fluid from the eye, though, these medications come with an array of side effects. For instance, those taking beta blockers have reported the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Reduced pulse rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decrease in the amount of blood pumped out by the heart
  • Depression
  • Decrease in libido

CBD for Glaucoma: Can It Work?

cbd oil for glaucoma

Please note that at the time of writing, there is no permanent cure for glaucoma. Nor have there been any large-scale clinical trials reporting on the specific effects of CBD for glaucoma.

However, a large number of studies have shown cannabis as a whole – even those strains high in THC –  to be a viable and highly effective treatment. A 1971 study by Hepler and Frank, for example, discovered that cannabis lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) by up to 30%.

The problem with using weed, though, is that you have to consume it every few hours because the effects don’t last very long.

In other words, you have to be stoned for most of the day. While this might seem like a pleasant way to live for some, it is not practical for most people. Also, while cannabis has a low addiction rate, using it six or more times a day would greatly increase the risk of developing a dependence on the plant.

This is where CBD comes in. Cannabidiol is one of marijuana’s non-intoxicating cannabinoids, and some research has suggested that it is just as useful as THC and other psychoactive compounds for the treatment of glaucoma. The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was only discovered in 1992, but research since then has uncovered some pretty exciting things. In fact, the ECS (which is essentially the body’s very own cannabinoid system) has been called ‘the future of medicine’ by some experts.

The ECS is one of the human body’s most important physiological systems, as it has an impact on almost every aspect of health including pain modulation, immune response, and inflammation. Regarding glaucoma, cannabinoid receptors are involved in the ocular tissues which regulate IOP.

Researchers are hoping to create medications derived from cannabinoids such as CBD that can target these ocular tissues, in an effort to reduce IOP and eventually protect retinal cells from the permanent damage that leads to blindness.

Incredibly, there has been evidence for over four decades that CBD alone could help treat glaucoma. The study, published in the International Journal of Pharmacology and Biopharmacology in 1979, analyzed the effects of CBD on 16 patients with open-angle glaucoma.

After taking CBD, the patients experienced a reduction in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate. Ultimately, this resulted in a decrease in IOP behind the eyes – the direct cause of glaucoma. Moreover, it was observed that the effects of CBD lasted longer in patients with hypertension.

The issue now with existing cannabis-based glaucoma treatment is bioavailability.

Although topical application via eyedrops works best, it still means that only 5% of an administered dose reaches the target.

This is why some people have resorted to either vaping CBD (a potent means of administration for glaucoma) or taking it as an oil in an effort to ensure that more of the active compound is actually “put to use.”

It is important to note, though, not to use too much CBD oil as a 2006 study by Tomida et al. found that CBD doses of above 40 mg can actually increase IOP in the eye. In the majority of instances, glaucoma sufferers have found that doses between 10-20 mg have been effective. (Though please note that this is NOT a recommended dosage or valid medical treatment option).

Final Thoughts on CBD for Glaucoma

In summation, the key to CBD’s positive impact on glaucoma lies in the CB1 receptors within the eye’s ocular tissues as they regulate IOP. When administered correctly, CBD could potentially lower IOP and protect the eye’s retinal cells. Another interesting point is the link between Alzheimer’s and glaucoma. An estimated 25% of Alzheimer’s patients also have glaucoma, which suggests that the eye condition could be neurodegenerative in nature – very intriguing for proponents of CBD, as one of its primary uses is as a neuroprotective agent.

Moreover, the vaso-relaxant properties of CBD could increase ocular blood flow and its anti-inflammatory properties have the potential to provide relief not just for glaucoma, but also for other inflammatory eye conditions as well.

One of the biggest problems with existing glaucoma medications (such as those listed above) is the litany of side effects. In most instances, this is far less of an issue when using cannabis. While the THC in marijuana results in a psychoactive ‘high’, CBD is non-intoxicating. Therefore, you can use it regularly, safe in the knowledge that it won’t impact your judgment and likely won’t cause you to fail a drug test. Known side effects are minimal, and it could help save your vision – or at least prevent it from deteriorating further.

Article Sources:
  1. Daniel Arambula
    Provacan worked

    Glaucoma had made my eye very painful, only the right eye. Consuming oral CBD oil helped me and I am very thankful to the manufacturers of Provacan as this was an easy remedy.

  2. B Hamilton
    High angular closure

    I have been diagnosed with high pressure glucoma was told to get surgery as I have vascular eds I can’t have surgery.will this reduce the pressure high angular closure any advice needed please

  3. Oliver
    Is CBD good for treating glaucoma?

    I have glaucoma and I had some hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment recently. Whilst there, I watched a documentary about CBD oil saying that it is a miracle ointment and that it helps in treating glaucoma along with many other ailments. Is this true or incorrect as I don’t want to take something that will have negative effects on my eyes? Cheers, Oliver.

    1. Gillie
      No negative effects

      CBD won’t have any negative effects on your eyes. It might not be as effective of a treatment as it is for other people, but at least you won’t be left with more health problems than before. 🙂

      1. Mario Daigle
        Research seems mixed on this subject... :-/

        I don’t get it…some research seem to say the opposite. I would like to take CBD for depression and chronic pains…but I have Glaucomea dn do not want to make it worst as I only have one good eye left. :-/ Not quite sure what to do.

  4. Nathan Cooke
    Will work I guess

    Yes CBD is working for Glaucoma. I am not sure how much time you will need, I took 2 months to see the results, but it will vary for people most logically. Still you can try it as it is safe and easy to use.

  5. T
    Interested in trying CBD for Glaucoma?

    I’ve had Glaucoma for several years and currently have no vision left in my left eye (we did a shunt in sept 2016 and cataract removal in Jan 2017 and achieved our goal of reducing the pressure in that eye but the vision was already damaged via the glaucoma) and now just trying to keep the pressure down in both eyes as my right eye isn’t the greatest and my only eye left with all my prescribed drops.

  6. Donna
    Product name for ordering

    I have two types of glaucoma secondary being plateau iris. What one should I order? The eye drops for glaucoma are hurting my eyes.

  7. Mary
    Will it dilate the eye

    Will it dilate the eye

  8. Marcy Scott
    Reply for Angela Taylor

    Angela Taylor.
    My friend takes it for Glaucoma, my son for anxiety & depression and my daughter for Hashimotos. They have all found that meds are reduced, my son is totally off of it. They can all attest to the efficacy of CBD. They use the 10xPure, which is THC FREE, and the only patented, water-soluble CBD available on the market and sold by the company I promote. I’d be happy to share that with you if you’re interested.

    1. Judy M Bedell-Deutscher
      FOR MY Glocoma.

      Please give me more information on this type of CBD please

  9. Angela Taylor

    I’m considering taking CBD for my anxiety and depression, but have borderline high pressure in both eyes. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if I could take it to help reduce the pressure in my eyes also. There are no easy decisions in life and it seems in this regard my anxiety may be raised if I’m worrying whether the CBD would in fact be beneficial or damaging. I have also gone through the menopause so it would be good for me in this regard. I’m also on thyroxin for hypothyroidism.

    I’m wondering is there anybody out there who can advise me?

    1. Marcy
      Angela, It helps with all the conditions you mentioned.

      I posted something for you, not realize I could just click “reply”. Contact me if you’re interested!

  10. Craig Chant
    CBD shown to increase ocular pressure

    You seem to be advocating CBD for Glaucoma, when some studies have shown the CBD increases ocular pressure where as it is THC that reduces it.

    Based on that study you are actively damaging peoples eyes with your recommendations and this article.

    As someone who has a father with Glaucoma, putting me at high risk, I find your article reckless and potentially life changing for someone that could go blind from incorrect medical advice.

    1. Dee
      CBD Works!

      The article read, if you use an amount above 40mg it could raise your IOP. Anything below that is considered safe and will lower ones IOP. I’m testimony to that. As one who has glaucoma, my recent test results has shown an indication that CBD oil has improved my glaucoma and has lowered my IOP. This article was dead on!

    2. Tim Stammers
      Let’s hear it for CBD...

      Actually, if you read again what he wrote, you will see that he wrote 40 mg and above can increase IOP. But, taking 10 to 20 mg of CBD is the amount he’s referring to, which could be helpful. This would be about half to one eyedropper full, or how ever much the specific brand of CBD oil, recommends.

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