CBD and Glaucoma, Pros and Cons, Effects, and Best Advice

Posted February 12, 2021 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Wondering about CBD and glaucoma and if taking CBD might be the perfect solution for your condition? Here’s where we go into detail about the pros and cons and background on CBD and glaucoma.

CBD and Glaucoma. Since 1979 studies provided positive indications for using CBD for glaucoma. It was initially believed to alleviate intraocular pressure (IOP) by 25-30%, one of the primary reasons for glaucoma. But recent studies find CBD can worsen glaucoma by increasing eye pressure (IOP) by at least 18 percent.

With this in mind, let’s get into more of the specifics.

What are CBD and glaucoma?

CBD and Glaucoma

To begin with, it’s important to understand what these two elements are, and if they have any connection. So here’s the breakdown.


CBD is short for cannabidiol and is a chemical compound from the cannabis sativa plant. Or in other words, CBD is a chemical compound in marijuana.

It’s a naturally occurring substance and is used in products like oils and other edibles. The main use of CBD is to address anxiety and to give a sense of relaxation or calmness.

Sometimes it’s also used for medical conditions like dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, and insomnia. But in general, it’s used for treating different types of chronic pains.

But the drawback with CBD for its use in different chronic pains or other medical conditions discussed above is that they have no solid scientific evidence to support these uses. They’ve also been known to cause side effects such as headaches.

This is why many remain skeptical about using CBD for different medical conditions, even if some users may find relief or cure using these products. 


Glaucoma is a hereditary medical condition. This involves fluid building up in front of the eyeball.

As a result, immense pressure builds up in the optic nerve. Unfortunately, if this medical condition is left untreated, it could cause permanent vision loss and nerve damage. 

The main issue that triggers glaucoma is the pressure called “intraocular pressure (IOP).” So, most of the treatments focused on glaucoma aim at lowering this specific pressure. 

And we should also state that glaucoma is irreversible and doesn’t have a permanent cure, so you need to be careful when dealing with and treating glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a condition that generally affects people over the age of 60 years old, as it usually manifests at a later stage in life. But it’s advisable to spot and treat symptoms early, regardless of when they might appear.  

Can CBD treat glaucoma?

Since the 1970s, using CBD for treating glaucoma has offered some positive indications.

A study was published by the International Journal of Pharmacology and Bio Pharmacology.

It explicitly studied the effect of CBD oil in 16 patients with open-angle glaucoma. The results concluded an overall reduction in intraocular pressure (IOP) – the primary cause of glaucoma.

As such, the study, therefore, openly concluded that CBD could treat glaucoma. 

Aside from this, several other studies in 1970 presented similar positive outcomes. 

These studies found CBD to be effective in alleviating intraocular pressure by 25-30% (IOP). Alongside that, it’s believed that this reduction in pressure helps in two ways. 

One is that it prevents future damage to the optic nerve, and second, it promotes greater overall eye health.

Indeed some ophthalmologists recommend CBD for glaucoma. Yet, they recommend that it should be used primarily as early-stage preventive care. This is because CBD has some pain-relieving qualities, through which it can reduce IOP by a wide margin of 25-30%. So, CBD could help towards delaying the long-term effects of glaucoma.

Is CBD a better alternative for glaucoma than other medications?

CBD and Glaucoma

Initially, before CBD and glaucoma became a subject of focus, medical marijuana was in use. 

Glaucoma ranks among the most frequently cited reasons for using medical marijuana. The research findings in the 1970s indicated that both marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) reduce intraocular pressure, a key contributor to glaucoma. 

These findings attracted considerable interest. And this also made strains with high THC content to be a viable and effective treatment for glaucoma.

The main reason behind this was that other treatments for glaucoma came with adverse side effects.

Since then, marijuana-based or high THC content medicines were focused on treating glaucoma. 

However, marijuana-based medications or medicines with a high THC content are psychoactive and leave you feeling “high.” Although this can be a thrilling experience for some, it’s unpleasant for many and is not the primary aim of the treatment.

This was one of the main reasons why CBD was seen as a better alternative for glaucoma.

Again, CBD, though it comes from the marijuana plant, it does not have psychoactive properties. So, this makes it possible to possibly treat glaucoma without altering a patient’s state of mind.

So, it’s relatively clear that CBD can provide a better non-psychoactive and less risky alternative in treating glaucoma. 

Moreover, some other glaucoma treatments include eye drops, laser treatments, or surgery. The treatment depends on the stage. In general, all these treatments were said to be uncomfortable, invasive, or risky.

So, when comparing these treatment options with CBD for glaucoma, CBD seems to be a better alternative when it comes to convenience and ease of use. The effectiveness may vary from person to person, and patients should always consult their doctor to find the best treatment option.

Is CBD safe and effective for glaucoma?

Although CBD has positive indications for treating glaucoma and providing a better alternative than other treatments, its effectiveness and safety for glaucoma are now in doubt.

This became apparent following a more recent study at Indiana University. The study found a major chemical component in CBD that appears to worsen the disease’s primary underpinning, which is a rise in pressure inside the eye.

All treatment and medications for glaucoma aim to reduce eye pressure, but the study found results contrasting with this.

The study was reported in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science and was conducted in mice. It concluded that CBD caused an increase in pressure inside the eye of 18 percent for at least four hours after use.

Surprisingly, the study also found tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, effectively lowers eye pressure, as previously reported before CBD came into the market. 

Most importantly, the mice experienced a drop in eye pressure only with the use of THC alone. It also found that the use of THC combined with CBD blocked this effect of lowering the eye pressure.

The study makes the point that the use of THC or marijuana-based medications seems to be safer and more effective for glaucoma than CBD.

The main reason for this is believed to come from CBD increasing the eye pressure (IOP), the primary risk factor for glaucoma, and as such would only worsen the medical condition.

Final Thoughts

We hope this has provided some background on CBD and glaucoma. As always, if you are in any doubt as to the benefits of CBD, then we strongly recommend consulting your doctor before taking any action.

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