Cannabis and Glaucoma

When I prepared for my testing by The American Board of Ophthalmology in order to be “Board Certified,” there was a “Board Question” regarding Cannabis. It specifically regarded the effects on our eyes.

The question was “What are the ocular effects of Cannabis?”

The answer was “lowering intra-ocular pressure, redness and dryness.”

We Ophthalmologists have known for years that Cannabis lowers eye pressure, yet this vital information has been neglected thanks to our government. Many people are suffering and needlessly losing their vision from Glaucoma, despite all “conventional” therapies.

They are forced to take dangerous Ophthalmic drugs, or undergo risky surgery, when they could possibly benefit from something with the highest safety profile of them all for treating elevated eye pressure; Cannabis.

I have asked representatives from the pharmaceutical companies why they don’t research Cannabis for the treatment of Glaucoma.

The answer was always the same. “The Federal Government will not allow that. We would like to. We know it has benefits.

We can’t.”

About 50% of patients with Glaucoma will suffer irreversible vision loss despite all government approved medical, laser and surgical therapies. All of the prescription glaucoma drops and pills are dangerous and some even have life threatening side effects.

Surgery is always dangerous, and is best avoided. Cannabis, on the other hand is safe.

It is sad that our government will not allow patients access to such a relatively harmless and safe substance as Cannabis. I think vision is precious and have dedicated my life to preventing blindness and restoring people’s vision. I wish our government shared this perspective. 

I never hesitated to verbally endorse Cannabis when I was practicing medicine, but I was afraid of the consequences from the California Medical Board and The Federal Government.

Today, thirteen years after we passed The Compassionate Use Act, there are still constant threats against physicians who recommend Cannabis, collectives that provide Cannabis, and the patients themselves.

The cruelty and hypocrisy of our elected officials, as well as many members of law enforcement regarding Cannabis never ceases to amaze me.


Norman Lepoff, M.D. (Retired Opthalmologist)











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