AAOphth says marijuana is not proven treatment for glaucoma

July 8, 2014

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAOphth) has reiterated its stance on medical marijuana for the treatment of glaucoma, stating that it finds no scientific evidence that marijuana is an effective long-term treatment for the disease, particularly when compared to the current prescription medication and surgical treatment available.

San Francisco-The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAOphth) has reiterated its stance on medical marijuana for the treatment of glaucoma, stating that it finds no scientific evidence that marijuana is an effective long-term treatment for the disease, particularly when compared to the current prescription medication and surgical treatment available.

The academy based its position on analysis by the National Eye Institute and the Institute of Medicine and cautions that marijuana has side effects that could endanger a patient’s eye health.

“Ophthalmologists are focused on providing treatments that will give patients the very best results,” says Gregory L. Skuta, MD, glaucoma specialist and president of AAOphth. “For glaucoma, this means recommending therapies that have been proven to safely alter the course disease over a long-term period, such as medicated eye drops or surgery. No research exists to date that demonstrates that marijuana can deliver this level of efficacy.”

Some studies in the 1970s found that smoking marijuana or taking the drug orally or intravenously lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) for three to four hours, but there is no evidence that proves marijuana alters the long-term course of glaucoma.

According to the academy, marijuana lowers blood pressure throughout the body, which may cause a lower blood flow to the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss and effectively cancels out the benefit of decreased IOP. The academy also says those who smoke marijuana increase their risk for cancer and eye disease.