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Q: Is medical marijuana really a treatment for glaucoma?

Posted February 13, 2013 in Advice Column, Norwalk

A: Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the optic nerve becomes damaged over time, reducing side (peripheral) vision. It can lead to blindness if untreated. One cause of optic nerve damage in glaucoma is higher than normal pressure within the eye.

Currently, the only effective way to treat glaucoma is to decrease the eye pressure. This is done with prescription eye drops or surgery. Studies show that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, does lower the eye pressure. However, it is only able to lower the pressure for a short period of time, only three to four hours. The short time interval is a major drawback for the use of marijuana as a glaucoma treatment. Conventional therapy, eye drops and surgery are much more effective at sustaining a lower eye pressure over time.

So while marijuana can lower eye pressure, it will never be on the front lines of glaucoma treatment.

Information provided by Dr. Michael O’Meara, Optometric Associates, 1228 Sunset Drive, Suite A, Norwalk, 515-981-0224

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