Cannabinoids for Treatment of Glaucoma

Gary D. Novack


Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2016;27(2):146-150. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Purpose of review The purpose of this article is to review the current status of cannabis in the treatment of glaucoma, including the greater availability of marijuana in the USA.

Recent findings The potency of marijuana, as measured by the concentration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, has increased from ~2 to 3% in the 1970s to ~20% today. Many US states have passed laws allowing either medicinal or recreational use of marijuana.

Summary The pharmacology of marijuana and its effect on intraocular pressure has not changed since the research in the 1970s and 1980s. Marijuana is an effective ocular hypotensive agent. However, cardiovascular and neurological effects are observed at the same dose, and may theoretically reduce the beneficial effect of lowering intraocular pressure by reducing ocular blood flow. The clinician must be cognizant of this potential in diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy.


The use of complementary and alternative therapies in western cultures is increasingly being recognized. In particular, the use of complementary medicine in the treatment of glaucoma is of interest – both for ocular hypotensive and neuroprotective effects.[1–3] One estimate is that 5% of patients with glaucoma use complementary and alternative medicines.[4]

Marijuana is increasingly available via legal means as states in America pass either medicinal or recreational marijuana laws. Thus, it behooves eye care professionals and patients to know the efficacy, safety, and therapeutics of use of marijuana to treat glaucoma.