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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Reefer Madness: The Eyes Have It

Feb 26, 2017 07:40PM ● By Dr. Jeffrey R. Anshel

Did you know that cannabis consumption might possibly enhance your eyesight? Since the 1970s, scientists have conducted various studies on the connection between cannabis and our eyes. Here are some conclusions based on research.

        Glaucoma is a degenerative disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. The most common cause of glaucoma stems from higher-than-normal intraocular pressure (IOP). Research shows that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, can lower the IOP for three to four hours, bringing temporary relief when administered orally, sublingually (under the tongue) or topically.

        Recent research has discovered the presence of THC receptors in the eye’s tissue. Evidence also shows that cannabinoids may be able to save optic nerve cells via a mechanism called neuroprotection. However, the drugs that are currently prescribed to control the condition (there is no cure) are very effective while using one eye drop per day. Thus, there is little motivation for the eyecare professionals to lean toward cannabis as a preferred drug.

        It is widely known that cannabis has anti-cancer properties. One of the reasons for this is that it halts the growth of new blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors. This same action can reduce the effects of late stage macular degeneration as well. Stay tuned for more on this exciting development!

        Other researchers discovered that THC seemed to protect inner layers of the retina. These results came as no surprise, since cannabinoids have been linked to treating other degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and diabetes—all of which can affect the eye as well. It is widely known that the retina and brain share many similarities, including nutritional requirements.

        So, let us hope that good research continues to develop more uses for cannabis in eye health. And let’s stop all of this “reefer madness”!

Dr. Jeffrey R. Anshel is the owner of E Street Eyes, located at 128 West E St., in Encinitas. For more information, call 760-931-1390 or visit


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