How Does Marijuana Impact Vision?
Many proponents of marijuana claim that it has no lasting effects on the body. Science has proven that this is not true. Marijuana can impact many systems in the body, including the eyes. In fact, marijuana is often touted as a treatment for patients with glaucoma. How does marijuana impact vision? Keep reading and learn a few of the ways that using marijuana can affect your eyes.
Marijuana’s Impact on the Body
There are many known effects on the body when using marijuana. Some of these relate to the eyes while others impact other areas of the body. Studies have found that attention, memory and learning are all impaired by heavy marijuana use, even after stopping the drug for more than 24 hours. Marijuana users also exhibit impaired driving abilities, slower reaction times and difficulty concentrating. Marijuana can also impact perception, making colors appear brighter, etc. When it comes to eyesight marijuana commonly alters peripheral vision.
How Does Marijuana Work in the Body?
Marijuana’s effects are primarily caused by a chemical known as THC. When THC enters the brain it causes the user to feel high by affecting the pleasure center in the brain. It stimulates the brain cells to release a chemical known as dopamine. In this manner marijuana works similarly to other drugs including heroin and cocaine.
While THC is the primary chemical in marijuana that causes users to feel high, it isn’t the only substance found in this drug. Marijuana has compounds that may cause cancer and lung irritation. Scientists have identified more than 400 chemical components in marijuana.
Marijuana and the Eyes
Marijuana has a few key effects on the eyes. One of the most noticeable occurs shortly after smoking the drug: redness of eyes. THC in marijuana lowers blood pressure which dilates the blood vessels and increases blood flow throughout the body. This causes the blood vessels in the eye to expand causing redness or bloodshot eyes. It can also impact the dilation of the pupils, making them slightly more dilated than usual. One study showed that marijuana used in high doses could have a significant impact on peripheral vision.
Marijuana and GlaucomaThe eye pressure associated with glaucoma is typically treated using various medications and eye drops. Some people cannot use these treatments and may look for alternatives like marijuana.
Marijuana is used in some cases medicinally to treat eye conditions like glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve and is the second leading cause of blindness. Patients with glaucoma have increased eye pressure, which causes damage to the optic nerve and leads to peripheral vision loss. Controlling the pressure inside of the eye is an effective way to prevent lasting problems caused by the disease. Without treatment glaucoma can cause blindness in just a few years. The condition is inherited and usually occurs later in life.
THC, one of the components in marijuana has been known to decrease pressure in the eyes. For the same reason THC causes red eyes, it lowers blood pressure and dilates the blood vessels thus lowering eye pressure as well. It typically only lowers eye pressure for about three to four hours, so those choosing to use this treatment will have to use marijuana approximately six to eight times each day to be effective. THC pills or drops are sometimes used with similar results.
Many patients find that the hassles of using marijuana to treat glaucoma (inability to drive, reduced concentration, etc.) make the treatment not worth it. In one small study nine of nine patients stopped using the drug within nine months due to side effects.
The Glaucoma Research Foundation states that marijuana is not currently a recommended treatment for glaucoma due to unknown effects that could accompany its use. For example they mention the possibility of marijuana making glaucoma worse since it lowers blood pressure as well as eye pressure which could potentially further damage the optic nerve.
Marijuana can have significant impacts on vision and the eyes including changing the eye pressure, lowering peripheral vision and creating redness of the eyes. Its sensory effects can change the way the body perceives things, even if vision levels are not actually altered. Those choosing to use this drug, and those who choose not to, should be aware of how marijuana can impact the eyes, both negatively and positively.
Would you ever consider using marijuana for a glaucoma treatment?
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