According to health experts, marijuana smoking can damage the lungs. The harmful impact of long-term, frequent marijuana usage on the brain has also been well researched. However, while more study is needed on the possible beneficial and/or damaging effects of marijuana on eyesight, we do know that the drug has a few key functions.
The most visible impact of smoking cannabis is red eyes, which appear after a few minutes. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana dilates blood vessels and promotes blood flow throughout the body, lowering blood pressure. The veins in the eyes expand as a result of this, resulting in redness or bloodshot eyes.
Researchers are still looking into the harmful effects of cannabis on peripheral vision, eye pressure, and visual processing. Marijuana use may cause significant harm to these areas.
Some people are concerned about cannabis’ possible beneficial effects on those suffering from glaucoma. Glaucoma is an optic nerve disease in which the eye pressure has risen. While marijuana lowers eye pressure, it does so only for a brief duration. Because marijuana has an influence on individuals’ abilities to focus, make judgments, drive automobiles, operate heavy equipment, and so on, it is not presently considered a therapy for glaucoma.
How Does Cannabis Affect the Eyes?
It turns out that marijuana may assist you in seeing things from a new perspective. According to study, cannabis can influence every organ in the body, including the eyes.
Cannabis chemicals operate their magic in the eyes by tapping into one of the biggest cell communication networks found in vertebrates, the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Cannabis chemicals bind to a distinct sort of cell receptor, called a cannabinoid receptors, that the ECS uses.
The human eye, according to studies, has a high level of CB1 cannabinoid receptors. Vision processing centers in the brain also have a substantial number of these landing sites.
Furthermore, animal studies suggest that the ECS is important in our vision.
The ability of cannabinoids to reduce neuronal activity in the brain has been demonstrated in numerous studies. For example, a 2016 primate study published in Neural Plasticity discovered that modulating cannabinoid receptors changes retinal electroretinographic waves.
The electrical response of the eye to a light stimulus is recorded by an electroretinogram, which is a test used to measure visual evoked potentials. Cannabinoid receptors influenced the eye’s sensitivity to light, according to the researchers.
Cannabis’ effect on vision needs further study. However, this early research adds to the evidence that cannabis should be studied as a therapy for ocular diseases.
Already, there are several acute ways that cannabis affects the eyes. While some are spectacular, like improved night vision, not all of the effects are enjoyable. Shortly after consuming the herb, it is not uncommon to experience:
1.) Red Eye
Red eyes are not always the favorite cannabis side effect. While red eyes may be a tell-tale giveaway that you’ve consumed a little cannabis, those who experience tension around the eye might appreciate the relaxing effects of the herb.
Cannabis has been shown to lower blood pressure. Dilation of capillaries and blood vessels occurs as a result of this, resulting in what is commonly known as red eye.
Wider capillaries allow blood to flow into the eyes, lowering eye pressure. In a manner, this is eye relaxation for those who suffer from painful ocular conditions like glaucoma. This might be beneficial for individuals with irritated or damaged eyesight owing to chronic stress or other factors.
After smoking marijuana, some people develop an allergic reaction in the eyes. An allergy to smoke, remaining molds, or even cannabis itself can induce this response. ITCHINESS, REDNESS, INFLAMMATION, TEARING, AND DRYNESS ARE ALL SIGNS OF ALLERGIES.
According to a study published in 2015 by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, cannabis allergy resembles hay fever, with sufferers experiencing eye discomfort and an itchy nose after being exposed to smoke, pollen, or plant material.
3.) Enhanced night vision
Laboratory research has shown that cannabinoid receptors help the eyes react to light. Connecting with these receptors is now thought to enhance low-light vision, according to additional research from 2016. It’s thought that engaging these receptors enhances low-light vision.
Researchers have long wondered if cannabis might help with night vision. In the 1990s, M.E. West, a pharmacologist, noticed that Jamaican fishermen who took a cannabis elixir had an “unusual” ability to see in the dark.
The researchers believe that the ideal delivery method for THC is through lotion. A single, large dose of THC delivered via lotion would cause the same psychoactivity as several smaller doses taken multiple times over a period of time, according to one study. The second way cannabis users can increase their chances of obtaining an RCD is by gradually increasing their usage over time. That may be difficult due to its side effects; however, doing so will maximize your quality and quantity of life throughout this stage in the game (which may result in improved healing).
4.) Visual processing
Endocannabinoids may also assist in the maintenance of healthy eyesight. Recent studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system influences visual development in the brain.
According to a University of Waterloo study, children who were exposed to cannabis in the womb had significantly better visual processing abilities. While babies who consumed alcohol underperformed in terms of visual processing, those who were cannabis-exposed improved their global motion perception.
This is not an incentive to use cannabis during pregnancy, but it does add to the argument that cannabinoids and the ECS aid in eye and brain processing of visual information.
Cannabis and Eye Disease
Cannabis has a number of eye effects. While much more study is needed on cannabis and eye health, there is now evidence to suggest that it may help with a variety of eye diseases.
Some of these diseases include:
Cannabis’ notorious red eye might also be the reason why it is thought to be so beneficial for glaucoma patients. Glaucoma is an optic nerve disease that damages and causes blindness in millions of people worldwide.
Since the 1970s, researchers have been researching the effects of cannabis on glaucoma. In a study with 16 human participants, inhaled cannabis successfully reduced eye pressure, which leads to pain and damage in this condition.
Cannabis alleviated discomfort for three to four hours in all patients. The greatest and longest effects were observed in people with high blood pressure and glaucoma. These results were confirmed by research conducted in 1980 and 2000.
2.) Neurodegenerative blindness
In 2014, experts published evidence in Experimental Eye Research that cannabis medicines may be able to treat degenerative blindness. Cannabis chemicals prevented the death of retinal cells in individuals with retinitis pigmentosa.
The study involved rodents as test subjects. Rats were given a synthetic cannabinoid for 90 days in a row. The scientists examined the animals’ blindness after three months to assess how it was progressing.
Rats with the cannabinoid had 40 percent more photoreceptors than those who were not treated. This is strong evidence that cannabis-based medicines may help to slow down neurodegenerative blindness ocular degeneration.
The herb has been shown to contain potent neuroprotective antioxidants in other studies, which might help with a variety of age-related diseases, not just poor eyesight.
3.) Diabetic retinopathy
A 2006 preclinical study discovered that cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis component that does not create a psychotropic “high,” may protect the eyes of diabetics from diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes in which blood vessels in the retina become damaged. The retina, sometimes known as the blind spot, is an area at the rear of your eye responsible for vision.
Researchers believe CBD can help protect the retina from damage by reducing some of the toxicity in it. A recent study has made headlines on the internet, claiming that chronic cannabis use causes harm to the retina. However, this 2006 research indicates that some cannabis compounds might actually prevent retinal degeneration. Perhaps it all depends on how you consume marijuana.