Eye pressure, medically referred to as intraocular pressure, refers to the pressure within the eye. Similar to a balloon, the eye is a closed ball filled with fluids that keep it pressurized, or inflated. While eye pressure can vary throughout the day and life of a person, normal intraocular pressure ranges from 12-22 mm Hg. (millimeters of mercury).
When intraocular pressure, or eye pressure, becomes elevated beyond the norm, it can lead to vision loss that gradually occurs from the peripheral. Elevated IOP is a concerning condition, as it is the most established precursor to the development of glaucoma.
Eye pressure, referred to as a condition, is medically known as ocular hypertension. Otherwise normal patients who have elevated IOP in one or both eyes measured at least twice and don’t show glaucomatous defects on visual-field testing are diagnosed with ocular hypertension. Some studies suggest that, in certain populations, ocular hypertension is more prevalent than glaucoma.
Various factors can cause eye pressure. A family history or being over age 40 makes the risk of developing it higher. The condition is also associated with other eye disorders such as pseudoexfoliation syndrome, pigment dispersion syndrome, and corneal arcus. Eye trauma or injury can also induce elevated eye pressure. Sometimes, ocular hypertension occurs months or years after the initial injury. Medications such as steroids used to treat asthma and other conditions have also been shown to increase the risk of ocular hypertension.
Biologically speaking, gene mutations have been suggested as a factor in developing ocular hypertension and glaucoma. Excessive aqueous production, a clear fluid produced in the eye that flows continuously throughout different chambers within the eye and maintains healthy pressure levels, or inadequate aqueous drainage will also elevate IOP.
Drugs.com released a comparative list of forty-eight different medications for Intraocular Hypertension. It appears that no one medication can lower IOP without harmful effects, worsening the condition, or being unaffordable. There are several classes of medications used to treat ocular hypertension and glaucoma.
Prostaglandin agonists, such as Latanoprost and travoprost, work by increasing the uveoscleral outflow. Beta-blockers, such as betaxolol ophthalmic and Timolol, reduce eye pressure by induced reduction of aqueous humor production. Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors, such as brinzolamide, are a class of drugs that slow the formation of bicarbonate ions, causing a reduction in aqueous humor secretion and IOP. The alpha agonist, brimonidine, is the most commonly used medication to treat eye pressure, and it also works to reduce aqueous humor production.
With so many different medications being used to treat eye pressure, and in various combinations, it’s easy to end up with a long list of scary adverse effects. Many of these medications contain preservatives that can cause punctate keratitis, corneal erosion, conjunctive allergy, conjunctival injection, and anterior chamber inflammation. The most common preservative in eye pressure medications reported causing adverse reactions is benzalkonium chloride.
Dr. Kenji Inoue from the Inouye Eye Hospital in Japan published a paper analyzing the adverse effects of multiple ocular hypertension medications. In his review, he writes that,
“[Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors] is associated with high incidence[s] of dysesthesia of the fingers and lips, frequent urination, lassitude, anorexia, weight reduction, kidney stones, metabolic acidosis, and anemia.”
He goes on to present findings that parasympathomimetic drugs cause nearsightedness and retinal detachment. Systemic reactions of these types of drugs include drooling, sweating, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, asthma, bradycardia, hallucinations, and even depression.
Further investigation of various glaucoma and ocular hypertension medications revealed adverse effects such as tachycardia, bronchitis, insomnia, trembling, gastrointestinal and taste disorders. Essentially, these medications have the potential to relieve IOP, but they also have a high possibility to damage the eyes, further complicating ocular health, and they can even damage other parts of the body and brain. Fortunately, there is an alternative treatment to consider.
Since the 1970’s, marijuana has been known to be able to reduce intraocular eye pressure. In particular, the active compound [THC]. Thanks to the researcher's Helper and Frank in 1971, we learned that marijuana can reduce not only eye pressure but also blood pressure.
The British Journal of Ophthalmology published a lengthy paper on Cannabinoids and Glaucoma in 2004. In the article, they point to compounds found in cannabis that activate the [endocannabinoid system] receptors, such as CB1 and CB2. These receptors act to regulate various systems of the body including pain management, sleep, mood, appetite, and immunity. The paper interestingly cites studies suggesting that THC may actually help prevent the development of glaucoma by preventing a cascade of events inhibiting retinal ganglion cell death.
Researchers also point to several studies proving the antioxidant properties of [cannabinoids]. These findings are further supported by the recent discovery that THC helps to prevent the buildup of Tau proteins in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
While medical marijuana will not cure ocular hypertension or glaucoma, it will help to reduce IOP and offer relief from symptoms. Future, long-term studies into THC could yield medicines that can prevent the onset of conditions like glaucoma and Alzheimer’s.
Medical marijuana will affect individuals uniquely according to various factors. Speak with a physician and medical marijuana professional about beginning to use cannabis to treat severe conditions. Find linked below a list of medical marijuana strains that have been reported to help other patients with eye pressure and glaucoma.
· [[Bubble Cheese]]
· [[Deep Chunk]]
· [[Denver Maple]]
· [[Ganesh Berry]]
· [[Hashplant Haze]]
· [[Heisenberg Kush]]
· [[Hustler Kush]]
· [[Kali Dawg]]
· [[KC 33]]
· [[Kill Bill]]
· [[Ladyburn 1974]]
· [[Misty Kush]]
· [[North Indian]]
· [[Old School OG]]
· [[Paris XXX]]
· [[Red Diesel]]