Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound derived from the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn’t cause intoxication.

CBD has a wide variety of potential therapeutic uses, but research is still ongoing. Some studies are currently investigating CBD’s role in treating eye diseases, such as glaucoma, with mixed results.

This article explores whether CBD can help with glaucoma, along with the risks and benefits of this treatment.

Glaucoma is one of the most common eye conditions in the United States. It’s typically caused by excess eye pressure, known as intraocular pressure (IOP). Over time, this can damage the eye tissue and contribute to vision loss.

Most current treatments for glaucoma focus on lowering IOP to minimize vision loss. the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns against the use of CBD for glaucoma because of adverse effects on eye pressure. This stance is backed up by a plethora of research over the years, including the following:

  • The effect of CBD on eye pressure is uncertain. The authors of a 2022 review indicated that four studies found CBD had no effect on IOP, while three studies found it decreased IOP, and two studies found it increased IOP. Most of the studies were conducted on animals.
  • This confirmed a 2019 review that also reported some contradictory results. The authors concluded that without further research, CBD poses a risk of increased eye pressure among people with glaucoma.
  • In addition, the authors of a 2018 study suggested that CBD may interfere with the IOP-lowering effects of THC. As a result, cannabis products that have a high concentration of CBD might not be as helpful in the treatment of glaucoma.

If you’re using cannabis to treat glaucoma symptoms, products that are high in THC and low in CBD may be more beneficial for glaucoma. THC has been shown to help lower eye pressure. A state-licensed cannabis dispensary can help you identity such products.

Although CBD has been linked to various health benefits, it carries a risk of side effects and might not be suitable for everyone.

As indicated by the research cited in the previous section, one of the side effects of CBD might be increased eye pressure. This could potentially worsen vision loss in people with glaucoma.

Other eye-related side effects of CBD include dryness.

Can CBD worsen the symptoms of glaucoma?

There are no studies investigating the long-term effects of CBD use among people with glaucoma. However, based on what we know about CBD and eye pressure, it’s possible that CBD can worsen glaucoma symptoms over time.

If you have glaucoma and use cannabis or CBD regularly, make sure to discuss it with a doctor or healthcare professional. They’ll be able to best advise as to whether it’s having any effect on your eyes.

More research is needed to clarify the link between CBD and eye pressure. It’s too soon to know if it may increase, decrease, or have no effect on your eye pressure.

If CBD raises eye pressure, it may do so by blocking a certain type of cannabinoid receptor in the brain known as CB1, according to a 2018 study. The authors showed that CBD increased ocular pressure in wild mice but decreased ocular pressure in mice without CB1 receptors.

They also found that CBD didn’t affect eye pressure in mice without CB1 receptors that had been given a drug to block another receptor, known as G protein-coupled receptor 18 (GPR18). GPR18 is also involved in cannabinoid signaling.

These results suggest that CBD acts on more than one receptor to maintain ocular pressure.

In addition, the authors also reported that the effects of cannabinoids on ocular pressure varied according to the sex of the mice, with males more likely to experience a drop in eye pressure after receiving THC. In contrast, the effects of CBD appeared similar for both male and female mice.

THC has been shown to lower eye pressure. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good treatment for glaucoma.

A 2020 survey of 290 glaucoma specialists found that only 7.6% had recommended cannabis as a treatment for glaucoma. The vast majority said they had only recommended it in rare instances.

There are several issues with the use of cannabis products to treat glaucoma. Firstly, the dose of THC required to effectively treat glaucoma 24 hours per day would seriously impact a person’s ability to function. Depending on the method of administration (smoking versus ingesting), it could also carry a risk of long-term health effects.

In general, there isn’t enough research on the safety and effectiveness of THC compared with other glaucoma treatments. Most experts don’t recommend the use of cannabis products for glaucoma.

Asking a doctor about using cannabinoids to treat glaucoma

While CBD might be helpful for a number of conditions, it isn’t a miracle cure. In fact, it might even be dangerous for people with glaucoma.

Glaucoma requires medical treatment from a doctor. Otherwise, it can lead to long-term complications such as blindness.

If you have glaucoma, you should ask your healthcare professional about available treatments and insurance coverage. They can help you understand whether alternative treatments, such as cannabinoids, might be helpful for you, and tell you what side effects you can expect.

Always be honest with a doctor about your use of cannabis or CBD. The information you tell them is required to be kept confidential and will only be used to make sure you get the best treatment possible.

Was this helpful?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that’s often linked to increased eye pressure. Research on the effects of CBD on eye pressure has shown mixed results.

Until more is known about the effects of CBD on ocular pressure, it’s not safe to use as a treatment for glaucoma.

Although THC has been shown to lower eye pressure, it’s not an ideal treatment for glaucoma because it has short lived effects, may require a high dose of THC, and has other side effects such as intoxication.

Talk with a doctor to learn more about available treatments and alternative therapies for glaucoma.