“Studies have shown that THC, which is the active ingredient in cannabis, does help lower IOP in the eye for a certain period of time. Dr. Dotson performed various studies, where one study showed intraocular pressure dropping up to 40% using cannabis as a form of medicine.” — Healing the Eye Wellness Center
Affecting almost 25 million Americans, cataracts cloud the eye, reduce vision, dull colors and, when not treated, can cause blindness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) cataract is the leading cause of blindness globally.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that while Americans have treatment options for cataract diseases, many don’t understand something is wrong with their eyes until it’s too late. Slightly more common in women than men, cataracts are a growing issue that is affecting vision and quality of life.
Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Fading color
- Blurred vision
- Problems with lights “glaring”
- Poor night vision
The Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center explains that while age is the primary cause of cataract-related issues diseases, such as diabetes, medications like steroids can increase the risk of developing cataracts later in life.
More Americans than ever-growing risk of cataract-related eye diseases
According to the National Eye Institute, “The risk of cataract increases with each decade of life starting around age 40. By age 75, half of white Americans have cataract diseases.”
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By 2050, the National Eye Institute believes cataract numbers will double from 24.4 million adults to 50 million adults experiencing cataract issues. The data suggests that those most at risk of a rapid increase are Hispanic Americans.
“Most cataracts are age-related — they happen because of normal changes in your eyes as you get older. But you can get cataracts for other reasons — for example, after an eye injury or after surgery for another eye problem (like glaucoma).” (National Eye Institute)
Turning to Cannabis
With stigmas changing, more adults are turning to the medicinal benefits of CBD and marijuana to treat eye conditions like cataracts. Harvard Health’s blog illustrates that many Americans are looking for different approaches to pain and age-related diseases. With 94% of Americans surveyed in a recent poll supporting legal access to marijuana, many are seeking out the medicine- more than ever before. In fact, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) cited that cannabis use has been steadily increasing with adults who were 65-years or older from 2.4% in 2015 to 4.2% in 2018.
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The American Academy of Ophthalmology stated that while studies are limited about marijuana and cataracts, marijuana does appear to have benefits with glaucoma, lowering intraocular pressure if dosed correctly.
The Bottom Line
With few studies available or in queue for cannabis’ effects on eye health, it is best to talk to your ophthalmologist if you are partaking in cannabis or CBD and find out if any risk factors exist. As the stigma around marijuana continues to lessen, many older Americans are seeking out new treatments for old issues. Scientists no doubt will want to keep up with trends and create new pathways for medicines to heal the body.