Warning: CBD Can Make Glaucoma Or High Eye Pressure Worse
CBD, short for a chemical in the cannabis plant called cannabidiol, has become all the rage over the past year. Available in oils, sprays, creams, and even bath bombs and dog treats, CBD does not make you high, unlike its well-known cannabinoid cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Often touted as a magical elixir, CBD is being marketing as a treatment for just about everything, including anxiety, insomnia, pain, and even cancer. According to AARP, baby boomers are fueling the popularity of CBD and using it as a treatment for pain, arthritis and other age-related health problems.
Glaucoma, however, has been taken off the list of conditions that may benefit from CBD. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recently reported that a new study proved CBD may worsen glaucoma, which is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
The study suggests that CBD doesn’t lower eye pressure, it raises it, which is problematic because high eye pressure is the primary risk factor for glaucoma. High eye pressure from glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which is responsible for allowing us to see by transmitting visual information to the brain. Increased eye pressure damages the nerve, leading to permanent vision loss.
For the study, researchers tested an eye drop in rats that contained CBD. They found that the CBD drops raised pressure inside the eyes by 18% for at least four hours after the drops were applied. They also tested eye drops that contained only THC, with no CBD, and found that eye pressure decreased temporarily by up to 30% within eight hours.
The researchers also found that CBD and THC affect eye pressure differently in male and female rats. Males who received THC had a much larger decrease in their eye pressure than females, which may mean that there are gender differences in how the compound acts on the brain.
What does this all mean for people who either have or are at risk of developing glaucoma? It means they should avoid using CBD products to treat glaucoma until more research can be done.
For people who don’t have glaucoma and are considering using CBD for other conditions, it’s important to note that research of CBD is in its infancy, and the purity and dosage of some CBD consumer products may not reliable. In addition, CBD can have negative interactions with many medications, so patients with any eye conditions or diseases should talk to their ophthalmologists before taking it.
The ophthalmologists at Baptist Eye Surgeons continue to recommend that patients stick with their currently prescribed treatment of oral medications or eye drops, and come in for regular visits so that their eye pressure and long-term care can be monitored.
The doctors at Baptist Eye Surgeons specialize in detecting and treating diseases of the eye, including glaucoma. With offices in Knoxville, TN and Morristown, TN, Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice dedicated to providing exceptional eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to complex eye surgeries. To learn about our specialities and our doctors, visit our website. Call us at 865-579-3920 for more information, or visit us online to schedule an appointment.