The Truth About The Use of Medical Marijuana for the Treatment Of Glaucoma.

Due to the growing legalization of medical marijuana debates, there have raised many questions over the uses of Marijuana for the treatment of Glaucoma. It has also caused many patients who use marijuana for recreational use to talk to their ophthalmologist about their own prevention of glaucoma.

First, we have to understand the background….

In terms of treatment of glaucoma, a patient MUST have 24 hour coverage of eye pressure lowering effects. Basically, if a patient were to have Glaucoma, and they were to use an eye drop that lowers the eye pressure for only 8 hours, that means that the patient is still walking around with elevated eye pressure for 16 hours during the day. That is not only poor coverage, but it is actually MORE dangerous than not treating it at all. You see, under-treating eye pressure causes even greater fluctuations in eye pressure than had it been left alone. This is extremely dangerous for Glaucoma patients.

What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes progressive, painless visual loss, which if goes undetected, will lead to total blindness. It is the #2 cause of irreversible blindness in the USA. There are many risk factors which can lead to or even worsen Glaucoma, however the most popular risk factor is an elevated eye pressure. This is why billions of dollars or research has lead to multiple surgical procedures and countless medications, which are aimed strictly to lower eye pressure.
What is Marijuana? Marijuana is a natural plant that grows in the ground. It has multiple medicinal/recreational uses which are derived from 2 active ingredients in Marijuana. Active Ingredient #1- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) THC is the portion of the Marijuana plant that causes euphoria, or “getting high” sensation, slowed reflexes, increasing hunger, and in some instances hallucinations. Active Ingredient #2- CBD (cannabidiol) CBD causes relaxation, and pain relief

How has Marijuana been linked to Glaucoma? In 1971, a study came out showing that marijuana lowers the eye pressure. After this study, marijuana has been labeled as the natural miracle plant for treatment of glaucoma. The only problem is, the study never stated which active ingredient lowered the pressure, and it also did not state how long the effect would last.
Now that you have the background, lets tackle the newest study done at the University of Indiana in 2018. They tested the effects of each one of ingredients (THC and CBD) on eye pressure when used alone, as well as when used together. What they found was astonishing, but shocking.

They tested an eyedrop with CBD, the component of cannabis that does not get you stoned, and they found that it RAISED EYE PRESSURE by 18 percent for at least four hours after the drops were instilled. They also tested THC, the component that does get you stoned, and they found that drops containing only THC decreased eye pressure by up to 30 percent within eight hours. They then tested an eye drop with BOTH CBD and THC and found that due to the counteracting effects of CBD vs THC, marijuana does lower eye pressure, but for a very short amount of time.

What does this mean? This means that although CBD has many medicinal positive effects, it should be used in extreme caution! Patients with Glaucoma should NOT use CBD as it will likely increase the patient’s eye pressure. If used for an extended period of time, it can lead to glaucoma in patients at risk, who normally would not have developed glaucoma.

While it’s true that smoking marijuana can reduce pressure inside the eye, it remains a suboptimal treatment because people with glaucoma require 24-hour pressure control to prevent vision loss. You would need to smoke marijuana 8 to 12 times a day, every single day of your life; a treatment regimen that would make it difficult to hold down a job, drive, or function, not to mention the potential cost. The potency of marijuana also varies considerably. It is also unknown yet how it interacts with other medications. One study showed that some people can build up a tolerance to marijuana’s eye pressure lowering effects.

This is the reason why the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Glaucoma Society do not recommend using marijuana for treatment of Glaucoma. However, these studies released by the University of Indiana have had eye opening detrimental effects of CBD on eye pressure. CBD is readily available, legally, at pharmacies and the internet without prescriptions, but please use it in caution and speak to your eye doctor about whether the benefits you are seeking from CBD can be used safely with YOUR eye status. YOUR eye is not the same as your friend, parent or sibling’s eye, so please don’t use what an eye doctor tells your friend/parent/sibling and assume it pertains to you too.

With So Many Contact Lenses Out There, Which One Is Best For Me?

That is a GREAT question!

Advances in contact lens technology have led to the development of more and more types of contact lenses. The Problem is, which one is best for you? Which is the most comfortable and which one is the safest?

So here is the breakdown of the TYPE of contact lenses that are out there:

HIGH OXYGEN / SILICON HYDROGEL

Leading the way in the newest technological developments has been the advent of silicon hydrogel disposable contact lenses. Silicon hydrogel lenses allow better oxygen permeability or breathability compared to regular hydrogel contact lenses. This has long-term health benefits for your eyes, allowing you longer wearing time, excess moisture, and eliminates the long term affects of cleaning solutions on your eyes. This helps keep the eyes healthier and happier.

Since the launch of silicon hydrogel disposable contact lenses, the technology has constantly improved, resulting in softer, more comfortable lenses. The range of prescriptions available in these materials is continually expanding. Silicon hydrogel lenses are available in several different lens materials and designs, including daily disposable, two-week or monthly disposable and multifocal lenses. Silicon hydrogel lenses may be suitable for you to sleep in according to the FDA, however, most ophthalmologists (like us) and most optometrists will never recommend it and in fact, most feel that it is dangerous to sleep in ANY contact lens.

 

RIGID GAS PERMEABLE LENSES

Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses are made from hard, durable plastics that transmit oxygen. These are typically theleast prescribed, but most affordable lenses out there, however, they take a little longer to get used to compared to soft lenses. They offer excellent visibility and clarity, especially in patients with astigmatism or irregular corneas and they are particularly good lenses for conditions such as keratoconus and other rare corneal conditions. These lenses typically last a year and then need to be replaced.

COLOR CONTACT LENSES

To change or enhance your eye color, these are available in a range of colors with or without prerscription. You can even get “Wild Eyes,” which are contact lenses with designs and fun colors, perfect for an occasion like Halloween. Color contact lenses are available in daily, monthly disposable and soft conventional designs. It is important to know that an ophthalmologist should fit all color contact lenses, even those without prescription, as the color contact lenses you find in costume stores are extremely dangerous.

MULTIFOCAL (or bifocal) CONTACT LENSES

Multifocal contact lenses combine distance and near vision. Multifocal contact lenses are available in several different disposable and high-oxygen silicon hydrogel materials, including daily disposable lenses. These, however, can be quite pricey and take a while to get used to. Many patients often quit using them before they take the time to get used to them. By wearing multifocal contact lenses you have the advantage of not being dependent on reading glasses OVER the contact lenses. Many patients often prefer mono-vision (a plain contact lens in one eye for distance and another contact lens in the other eye for near) to multifocal contact lenses.

 

DISPOSABLE SOFT LENSES

The most popular contact lenses today are soft disposable lenses. These lenses are made of soft, flexible plastics known as hydrogels or, in more recent years, silicon hydrogels. Disposable contact lenses are available to suit most prescriptions and are generally very comfortable, and do not require much time to get used to them. Disposable contact lenses are available in daily, two-weekly and monthly designs and are to be replaced at these intervals. People who wear daily disposable contact lenses benefit from a fresh pair of lenses every time they wear contacts, providing excellent comfort and eye health. These lenses require no cleaning or maintenance as they are replaced daily. Two-week and monthly lenses do require maintenance and cleaning solutions.

 

Although contact lenses are widely prescribed, getting a prescription for them is NOT like getting a prescription for glasses. Glasses prescriptions only require a power and a pupillary distance (distance between the two eyes). Contact lenses however come in all shapes and sizes, besides different powers as well. This requires special measurements to measure how round and how large your eyeballs actually are, so the contacts can rest on your eyes properly and safely. Poorly fit contact lenses can be extremely dangerous, even when they are properly cared for. Many insurances and vision plans DO NOT cover these tests and often thee is an added fee for these tests.

You can book in a contact lens consultation with the front desk. When you call, however, please be sure to mention that you would like a contact lens fitting/consultation, so you can have an appointment with one of our contact lens specialists.  Our specialists and ophthalmologists  will be able to advise you on what’s the best type for you. After the consultation, you can then order your lenses from us. the specialists and ophthalmologists will also be able to advise you on contact lens care and maintenance to ensure your eyes stay healthy and your vision clear. Call 718-728-0224 to book your appointment today, or click on the “contact ust” area of the website to book it online now.