Is Medical Marijuana an Alternative for Treating Glaucoma?

medical marijuana for glaucoma

Could medical marijuana for glaucoma be a safe and effective treatment option for some patients compared to traditional methods? Glaucoma is a devastating eye condition that affects millions of people worldwide and can result in blindness. Despite the effectiveness of conventional treatments like eye drops and surgery, some people may not respond well. This has prompted the exploration of complementary treatments, such as the use of medical marijuana for glaucoma.

Let’s dive into the evidence and explore whether this treatment option is a good alternative for managing glaucoma.

Current Evidence on the Use of Cannabis for Glaucoma Treatment

Research has suggested that cannabis may potentially improve glaucoma symptoms, primarily by reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye. However, the data on using cannabis for glaucoma is not yet definitive.

In a 2019 review, some promising research indicated that cannabis might ease glaucoma symptoms. However, many studies had a small sample size or inadequate controls, leading the review authors to conclude that more research is needed to draw conclusions about cannabis for glaucoma.

While some doctors may recommend cannabis for glaucoma and a minority of patients with the condition report benefits, more research is necessary to understand this alternative treatment’s potential fully. 

Despite these findings, various ophthalmic organizations do not recommend cannabis due to insufficient evidence and potential side effects. For example, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) states that even if cannabis does decrease IOP, the effect is too short-lived to help with glaucoma. Furthermore, it notes that a person would need to take enormous quantities of cannabis to see any benefit or symptom improvement.

The AAO advises that marijuana may damage the optic nerve; however, further study on cannabidiol (CBD) may eventually reveal some advantages.

It’s crucial to remember that there isn’t any firm scientific proof that cannabis is more effective than conventional glaucoma therapies. It is too soon to say that cannabis can effectively cure glaucoma without more studies. However, some people with glaucoma have reported positive outcomes from using cannabis when other treatments have failed. Ultimately, deciding whether to treat glaucoma with medical cannabis should be left to the patient and their doctor.


Research has shown that cannabinoids, the chemicals found in cannabis, have neuroprotective properties that can aid in treating glaucoma. In addition, animal studies have demonstrated that cannabinoids may enhance blood flow to essential eye structures. This has led proponents of medical cannabis for glaucoma to argue that this evidence suggests cannabis may not only manage symptoms but also reverse glaucoma. 

Other potential benefits of medical cannabis for glaucoma include:

  • Medical cannabis for glaucoma may cause fewer adverse effects compared to conventional therapies.
  • Many consider medical cannabis a more “natural” treatment for glaucoma and may prefer it over traditional options.

Alternative Treatments for Glaucoma

Lifestyle changes

One alternative treatment for glaucoma is to make lifestyle changes that can help reduce intraocular pressure. Some changes to consider include the following:

  • Regular physical activity can help reduce intraocular pressure and enhance blood flow to the eyes. Cycling, jogging, and brisk walking are all suitable exercises.
  • Quit smoking; it can worsen glaucoma symptoms and increase risk. In addition to improving overall eye health, quitting smoking can help lower intraocular pressure.
  • Since stress can raise intraocular pressure, it’s critical to manage it with deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation.


To conclude, the use of medical marijuana for glaucoma may appear as a hopeful substitute, but it is crucial to bear in mind that the current evidence is inadequate. While anecdotal experiences of cannabis use may have some merits, science has not thoroughly investigated the potential risks and benefits of the drug. Therefore, individuals who wish to explore this option should consult a medical professional with in-depth knowledge about medical cannabis.

At Pause Pain & Wellness, our pain management providers know the potential of medical marijuana as an alternative to traditional pain medications and other drugs which may have unwanted side effects or greater potential for abuse and addiction. 

If you have questions about using medical marijuana for glaucoma or other conditions, contact us at 833-940-5060.