Can you please confirm if marijuana can cure glaucoma (eye disorder)? I live in England and my sister has this disease and is losing her eyesight.Jane,

Cornwall, England

Marijuana lowers the intraocular pressure in the eye and this slows the progression of the disease. One of the seven patients remaining on the federal government’s Compassionate Use program, Elvy Musika, claims that it is the only drug that has stabilized her condition.

There have been no long-term studies of the use of marijuana to lower intraocular pressure. Short-term studies show that it lowers the pressure by as much as 25%. The National Eye Institute, a division of the National Institute of Health, a U.S. government agency ( states, “[Research] studies conducted [in 1978 and 1984]demonstrated that some derivatives of marijuana lowered intraocular pressure when administered orally, intravenously, or by smoking, but not when topically applied to the eye.”

“However, none of these studies demonstrated that marijuana ? or any of its components ? could safely and effectively lower intraocular pressure any more than a variety of drugs then on the market. As research with other potential glaucoma drugs has shown, simply lowering intraocular pressure does not necessarily control the disease. In addition, some potentially serious side effects were noted, including an increased heart rate and a decrease in blood pressure in studies using smoked marijuana.”

The reason the studies were done with derivatives of marijuana is that the federal government didn’t and doesn’t permit experiments using the natural substance, not even for short-term studies, so they certainly won’t permit long-term ones.

According to anecdotal evidence and the government’s own studies it is likely that marijuana is effective at lowering blood pressure and intraocular eye pressure. If a pharmaceutical medicine did that it would be hailed as a miracle drug.

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