3 Glaucoma Therapies: Exams, B3, Marijuana

3 Glaucoma Therapies: Exams, B3, Marijuana

When it comes to your vision, glaucoma is a serious threat. This disease damages the ganglion cells of the optic nerve impairing vital information that is attempting to communicate with the brain.

According to the  American Academy of Ophthalmology, by the time you reach age 65 you could be the one in three Americans that will have a vision-impairing eye disease which may very well be glaucoma. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and a top leading cause of blindness worldwide. 

These 3 glaucoma therapies may help relieve a current challenge or avoid a future one. When it comes to this serious eye disease you may want to take all the help you can get.

It’s a No-Brainer

It’s not officially a therapy but it should be treated like one. Find an eye doctor you like and visit them as if visiting a best friend once a year or so. This doctor will certainly be such a friend as maintaining a proper eye exam protocol is the number one preventative step for glaucoma and any eye disease for that matter. Early intervention has shown to give years of sight to people who would otherwise have gone blind.

This real life example by the Cincinnati Eye Institute as reported by News 4 SanAntonio lays out a common scenario,

“Meet Randolph Smith. He was a healthy taekwondo instructor.

“I was a guy who constantly worked out, I work out every day,” said Smith.

But then a routine eye exam changed everything for Smith. His doctor told him he needed to see a specialist.

“And he asked me, can you go today?” said Smith.

Smith had an eye disease slowly taking over his sight. Dr. Fred Chu diagnosed him with glaucoma.”

Risks of developing glaucoma are greatest for African Americans and Hispanics, being over 65 years old, those with diabetes, a family history of glaucoma, being farsighted or nearsighted or having suffered an eye injury. Another risk is no symptoms at all.

Donald Abrams, M.D., Chief, Department of Ophthalmology at the Krieger Eye Institute, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore commented to the Carroll County Times,

“Probably half of the glaucoma in this country is not even known to the patients. That’s because 80 to 85 percent of the glaucoma in this country is a type of glaucoma called open-angle glaucoma, which has no symptoms.”

Follow a therapy protocol of scheduled eye doctor visits to prevent glaucoma and other eye disease progression. Dr. Adams continued,

“You do need an eye care professional and I would recommend an ophthalmologist, Some optometrists are very good in determining if somebody has glaucoma or not. Going to an eye glasses store, the optician is not going to be able to tell you if you have glaucoma.”

Go B3

Recent testing has shown that taking a vitamin B3 supplement may help slow or prevent glaucoma. Researchers at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) in Melbourne have begun the first ever human trial of vitamin B3 supplements as a way to possibly prevent or reverse blindness as a result of glaucoma.

Research fellow Dr Flora Hui commented to Sydney’s SBS News,

“Our study hopes to confirm that vitamin B3 can protect nerve cells from dying, in a similar way that adding oil to a faulty car engine can still allow it to run more smoothly,”

The first successful trial of B3 for glaucoma involved lab mice. SBS reports,

“In 2017, US research from the JAX laboratories found that vitamin B3 given to glaucoma-prone mice prevented optic nerve degeneration and glaucoma. In fact, the treatment reversed the negative effects of aging in the eyes of the mice.”

Just about one year later the CERA trials have begun. The results from the US research have been determined as reversing injury to the eye. Professor Jonathan Crowston, CERA managing director describes this as a possible treatment for human glaucoma.

“We have recently discovered that in the early stages after an injury, visual function can in fact recover, but that the ability to recover diminishes with increasing age,…Our premise is that if you can improve optic nerve recovery [administering vitamin B3] after an injury that we can reduce the risk of glaucoma progressing.” 

Get In The Weeds

Since the 1970’ marijuana has been touted as able to reduce the IOP (intraocular pressure) in people suffering from glaucoma disease. A commonly cited study from 1971 titled, ‘Marihuana Smoking and Intraocular Pressure’ showed how smoking cannabis reduced IOP by as much as 25-35%. The pressure reduction only lasted a few hours but it was the beginning of research into using marijuana for glaucoma, particularly when other treatments failed.

About 30 years later a study by Israeli researchers, published in Graefe’s Archives for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology (April 2000), researched a drug for glaucoma derived from marijuana called HU-211. This is considered ‘synthetic marijuana’ because the mind altering compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is removed. It took about ninety minutes for HU-211 to begin working and lasted up to six hours. The formula has been improved over the last decade with several synthetic marijuana applications being utilized. 

The drawback of marijuana being inhaled is the irritation and potential danger presented to the lungs. Therefore, ingesting or vaporizing cannabis may be a better choice. However, according to one study from Polish researchers in 2008 titled ‘Possibilities of applying cannabinoids in the treatment of glaucoma’ stated, 

“Over a period of several decades numerous scientific research has proven that, regardless of the route of administration, cannabinoids are able to decrease intraocular pressure. What is more, these compounds are characterized by neuroprotection and vasodilatation properties, that additionally substantiate its therapeutic utility in conservative treatment of glaucoma.”

If you are fortunate to live in a marijuana legal state, then responsibly using this remedy may be an option worth talking to your ophthalmologist about. It may be helpful in applying to an acute case of glaucoma or preventing it from developing in the future, especially if it runs in your family. Plus, it may also be an excellent treatment for other eye diseases.

A study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology (5/04) reported,

“Other possible applications of cannabinoids [marijuana compounds] in ophthalmology could be explored….Perhaps the potent antioxidant properties of the cannabinoids may be beneficial in AMD, offering a possible alternative to established antioxidant supplements. Cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis, leading to a decrease in the expression of proangiogenic [encouraging new blood vessel production] factors such as VEGF. Evidence suggests that VEGF plays a major part in the development of [] AMD,..also, [cannabis] may have therapeutic relevance in different forms of inflammatory eye disease.”

These 3 glaucoma therapies are some of the many treatments and practices you can incorporate to maintain healthy sight. As medicine and natural remedies advance, more therapies will arise to one day make glaucoma and other eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts a thing of the past.