Glaucoma is one of the most interesting and well-understood conditions on the spectrum of unsolved health problems for human beings at present. However, fortunately, it is also one of the most promising for applications for CBD.
Glaucoma is, in fact, a condition of the eye the consequence of which is severe long-term damage to the optic nerve.
As far as causality, the damage would appear to be, in almost all cases, intra-ocular hypertension – or pressure inside of the eye caused by an increased presence of the aqueous humor, the clear fluid that you find filling the space between the iris and the cornea.
The impact zone for glaucoma would appear to be over 2 million people just in the United States alone – the majority of which are generally past the age of 45 years old before symptoms initially present themselves.
As for those symptoms, there aren’t many. Generally speaking, the first symptom found is a loss of peripheral vision. At this stage, vision loss that comes as a consequence of the presence of glaucoma has been shown to be irreversible according to current medical treatment technology. Essentially, the loss of vision in such cases is due to pressure in the eye directly damaging the optic nerve. We don’t understand precisely how this happens but the consequences appear to be quite clear.
In short, the eye produces an important fluid known as the aqueous humor. When too much of this fluid is produced, it accumulates inside of the eye, creating pressure pushing on the retina and the optic nerve. Because the optic nerve is a delicate bundle of millions of nerves, pressure can impact the fibers around the outside, damaging them, causing this initial symptom of the loss of peripheral vision.
As with many such things, a failure to drain something is just as bad as producing too much of it. Basically, glaucoma can be seen from either angle. But whichever way you look at it, too much of this fluid causes too much pressure which causes the failure of the vision system in the eye.
CBD and Glaucoma
One of the peculiarities associated with research into CBD is our growing understanding that it seems to be particularly good at dealing with conditions that, at root, result in some sort of systemic or regulatory imbalance in physiology.
Glaucoma is an excellent case in point.
A balance point is meant to be struck is between production and drainage of the fluid in the eye between the iris and the cornea. There are two sides of an equation defined by a proper ratio when the system is working properly. However, in cases of glaucoma, the key here is an imbalance defined as a failure by one side or the other of the equation, resulting in an incorrect ratio.
At this point, we have clear-cut research that shows a strong positive correlation between exposure to cannabinoids as a treatment regimen and the subsequent truncation of both the causes and the associated symptoms found in the pathogenesis of glaucoma.
What we understand at this point is an increased pressure on the optic nerve causes an inordinate production of peroxynitrite, which is a powerful oxidant. This excess production produces apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death, within the individual cells of the neuronal construction defining the optic nerve.
Importantly, CBD is able to prevent this process given its role as a potent antioxidant, its ability to inhibit the enzyme that oxidizes the cell in the first place, and its general inhibitory functions where apoptosis is concerned.