Does Weed Help Glaucoma?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

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Glaucoma is characterized as a group of eye diseases, and each type can cause vision loss and blindness if left untreated. Glaucoma damages your optic nerve, a bundle of over 1 million nerves located in the back of your eye that is responsible for sending visual messages. 

What Causes Glaucoma?

Researchers have not yet pinned down a direct cause of glaucoma, but they do know the most common cause is eye pressure that results from fluid build-up. This can cause optic nerve damage, leading to vision loss and blindness. 

In 2020, Georgia Tech researchers published a study about a hydrogel injection they developed with the goal to prevent glaucoma patients from needing daily eye drops and, eventually, surgery. This hydrogel injection is intended to control the buildup of pressure in the eye, which is a hallmark symptom of most glaucoma types.

While fluid build-up may be the most common factor in the development of the condition, different types of glaucoma can have different causes. For example, neovascular glaucoma can be caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. A condition that causes eye inflammation and swelling, called uveitis, can lead to uveitic glaucoma. Cataracts and tumors in the eye, while less common, may also lead to glaucoma. And the condition can develop as a result of an eye injury.

Risk factors for glaucoma can include:

  • Being over the age of 60
  • Having a family history of glaucoma

Individuals are also at higher risk for developing normal-tension glaucoma if they:

  • Have heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat
  • Have low blood pressure

Young, white males already suffering from near-sightedness have a higher risk of developing pigmentary glaucoma. 

More research on the causes of different types of glaucoma is needed to help develop proper treatments and preventative measures.

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Glaucoma Signs & Symptoms

Glaucoma falls into two categories, primary and secondary, and can vary in symptoms and onset.

Primary glaucomas include:

  • Open-angle glaucoma
  • Normal-tension glaucoma
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Congenital glaucoma

Secondary glaucomas include:

  • Neovascular glaucoma
  • Pigmentary glaucoma
  • Exfoliation glaucoma
  • Uveitic glaucoma

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, affecting roughly 57.5 million individuals. More than 3.3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma, with open-angle glaucoma being the most common type diagnosed within the United States. 

Typically, glaucoma has no symptoms until the individual begins to lose their vision. Patients usually experience peripheral vision loss first; if left untreated, glaucoma can lead to complete blindness.

Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma can include:

  • Intense eye pain
  • Nausea
  • Red eye(s)
  • Blurry vision

Congenital glaucoma symptoms in children may include cloudy eyes, light sensitivity, and extra tear production. Neovascular glaucoma symptoms can consist of eye pain or redness. Individuals suffering from pigmentary glaucoma may experience blurry vision and rainbow-colored rings surrounding lights.

Can Cannabis Help Alleviate Glaucoma?

woman with glaucoma eating an edible

Cannabis has been well noted in anecdotal reports and clinical trials to relieve eye pressure that can lead to glaucoma. In fact, the World Health Organization has identified cannabinoids as being effective in treating glaucoma. Delta-9 THC shows promise as a treatment for various glaucoma types and may also relieve other symptoms, such as eye pain. 

The CB1 receptor is widely expressed within the retina and anterior eye structures. Cannabinoids' interaction with the CB1 receptor and their modulation of prostanoids synthesis is the likely mechanism of action for which cannabinoids may be effective in treating the intraocular pressure that occurs with glaucoma. Anandamide and delta-9 THC have also been found to enhance the expression of COX-2, which can lead to lower intraocular pressure.

Cannabis compounds like delta-9 THC have been researched since the early 1970s in an effort to answer the question, “Does weed help glaucoma?”

Helper and Frank reported in their 1971 publication that oral administration of up to 20mg delta-9 THC reduced intraocular pressure by half for up to 4 hours.1 In 2006, Tomida et al. found that sublingual administration of delta-9 THC was also effective at reducing intraocular eye pressure, but CBD showed no significant effect.2

Studies that examined inhaled cannabis containing delta-9 THC also demonstrated the ability to lower intraocular pressure, ranging from a 14% to 34% reduction. More research is needed on the topical administration of cannabinoids to treat glaucoma.

If using cannabis for the treatment of glaucoma, several side effects may occur, including but not limited to:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Memory Loss

Patients can help reduce these potential side effects by starting with a low dose of delta-9 THC, beginning with 2.5mg, and gradually increasing the amount by 2.5mg as needed.


  • Mechoulam R, Carlini EA. Toward drugs derived from cannabis. Naturwissenschaften. 1978;65(4):174-179. doi:10.1007/bf00450585
  • Passani A, Posarelli C, Sframeli AT, et al. Cannabinoids in Glaucoma Patients: The Never-Ending Story. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2020;9(12). doi:10.3390/jcm9123978

Legality and Doctor’s Recommendation

To determine if glaucoma is a qualifying condition in your state, you can head to our Laws & Regulations section for the medical cannabis rules for your state. In addition, many doctors may consider the symptoms of glaucoma to fit the definition of chronic or severe pain, which is a qualifying condition in most, if not all, medical cannabis states.

If you find that your state recognizes glaucoma, conditions that may cause glaucoma, or chronic or severe pain as a qualifying medical condition, you can seek a doctor’s recommendation to register for your state’s medical marijuana program.

How NuggMD Can Help

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NuggMD’s growing telemedicine platform for medical marijuana currently serves patients in 22 states. By connecting over 1,000,000 patients with knowledgeable and friendly medical marijuana doctors, we are fully committed to assisting patients on their medical marijuana journey.

Here at NuggMD, we believe that all individuals have the right to explore what medical cannabis can do for them and our doctors are eager to guide you on your wellness journey. Select your state below for further information on whether you qualify for medical cannabis.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis & Glaucoma

What method of administration is most effective for glaucoma?

Inhalation and oral administration of delta-9 THC have both been shown to be effective methods of reducing intraocular eye pressure and treating glaucoma.

Does weed help glaucoma?

While there is not enough clinical evidence to say that cannabis can prevent blindness caused by glaucoma, delta-9 THC has shown promise in reducing intraocular eye pressure and potentially slowing the progression of the disease. More clinical evidence is needed to say whether cannabis can treat or prevent glaucoma.

Can cannabis help with symptoms of glaucoma?

Cannabinoids such as delta-9 THC have been recognized in research to lower intraocular eye pressure, which is a hallmark symptom of all but one glaucoma type. Cannabinoids may also help to provide relief from eye pain and inflammation in patients. In addition to smoking or eating edibles, THC eye drops may offer symptom relief.

Can terpenes help with glaucoma?

At this time there is little research into the impact of specific terpenes on glaucoma and related symptoms.


1. Hepler RS, Frank IR. Marihuana Smoking and Intraocular Pressure. JAMA. 1971;217(10):1392. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190100074024

2. Tomida I, Azuara-Blanco A, House H, Flint M, Pertwee RG, Robson PJ. Effect of sublingual application of cannabinoids on intraocular pressure: a pilot study. J Glaucoma. 2006 Oct;15(5):349-53. doi: 10.1097/01.ijg.0000212260.04488.60. PMID: 16988594.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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