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Eye Doctors Warn of Using CBD to Treat Glaucoma Skip to content

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Eye Doctors Caution Against Using CBD as Glaucoma Remedy

A recent study suggests that the marijuana product might worsen the condition

Cannabidiol bottles lined in a row

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En español | Cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical component of marijuana and hemp that doesn’t get users high, is increasingly touted by proponents as an alternative treatment for numerous ailments. But an organization of eye doctors is advising people not to try CBD as a remedy for glaucoma, a disease for which older Americans are at higher risk.

“Don't use CBD as a ‘natural’ glaucoma remedy," the American Academy of Ophthalmology warned in a press statement pegged to Glaucoma Awareness Month.

The group cited a study by Indiana University researchers, published in December in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. The researchers found that mice that were given eye drops containing a CBD extract experienced an 18 percent increase in pressure inside the eye (a hallmark of glaucoma) at least four hours after dosage. 

The study, coupled with other research using human subjects, “raises a legitimate concern about whether CBD may raise eye pressure and so serve as a potential risk factor for glaucoma,” said lead researcher Alex Straiker, an associate scientist in the university's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. 

Straiker said in an email that the researchers also discovered that CBD actually cancels out the eye-pressure-lowering effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.

Glaucoma, which can cause blindness, affects people of any age, but those 40 and older have a higher risk, according to the eye doctor group. 

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