June 2017
Volume 58, Issue 8
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2017
Medical Marijuana and Glaucoma: The United States Experience
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Denise A Valenti
    CEO/President, IMMAD, Quincy, Massachusetts, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Denise Valenti, IMMAD (I)
  • Footnotes
    Support  none
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2017, Vol.58, 4614. doi:
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      Denise A Valenti; Medical Marijuana and Glaucoma: The United States Experience. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(8):4614.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : There are twenty-eight states that allow for the use of medicinal plant marijuana and the majority have glaucoma as an approved pathology for which marijuana can be used.

Methods : Each state was sent an email survey with questions specific to the use of marijuana as the diagnosis for certification to obtain or grow medicinal marijuana. Each survey was followed up by either additional email communications or a telephone call.

Results : Marijuana is being used as a treatment for glaucoma and there are indications that marijuana is being used to replace conventional pharmaceutical treatments, but this may be minimal. Data outside this project and published in peer reviewed journals provide additional evidence to support this conclusion. Further there is evidence in peer reviewed journals that those states that have medicinal marijuana have had behavior changes on the part of clinicians and patients that have resulted in an increased awareness of the need for glaucoma related evaluations. But based on the survey results, there are patients using marijuana to treat glaucoma and this may be in the absence of other eye care. There remains little to no education provided to a patient with glaucoma when seeking to use marijuana to treat the disease. Nor is there any indication that there is appropriate monitoring of the pressure in the eye or progression of the functional and structural changes that could lead to blindness when patients are treating the glaucoma with marijuana, in absence of other traditional glaucoma therapies.

Conclusions : More education to the general public is necessary regarding the use of marijuana as treatment for glaucoma. We need better surveillance tools regarding the use of medical marijuana and specifically marijuana to treat glaucoma. Patients electing to use marijuana as the only treatment for glaucoma are at risk for vision loss and blindness primarily because there may be an absence of adequate medical monitoring, follow up and guidance.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2017 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, May 7-11, 2017.


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