Can Cannabis Improve Your Eyesight?
See for yourself what studies suggest.
Published on October 11, 2016

Did you know that cannabis consumption may possibly enhance your eyesight? Since the 1970s, scientists have conducted various studies on the connection between this magical plant and our eyes. Peep their cannabis-friendly conclusions.

Cannabis lowers the intraocular pressure of people with glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a degenerative disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. One cause of glaucoma stems from higher-than-normal intraocular pressure (IOP). Research supported by the National Eye Institute shows that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, can lower a patient’s IOP for three to four hours, bringing temporary relief when administered orally, sublingually, or ocularly.

That’s not all, though. In the past decade, researchers discovered the presence of THC receptors in the eye’s tissue. In addition, evidence shows that cannabinoids may be able to save optic nerve cells via a neuroprotective mechanism. More studies need to be conducted before most doctors will feel comfortable recommending cannabis as a treatment for glaucoma, but the findings are hopeful.

Cannabis decelerates vision loss.

A study published in Experimental Eye Research suggests that cannabinoids can slow down blindness. Researchers at the University of Alicante in Spain conducted tests using a synthetic form of THC which prevented further vision loss in rats with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a genetic degenerative eye disease. After 90 days, the rats that underwent treatment gained better scores on vision tests and acquired 40 percent more photoreceptors than the control group.

This delay in retinal degeneration is quite exciting, especially since one in 4,000 people are affected by RP. In addition, researchers discovered that THC seemed to protect inner layers of the retina. These results came as no surprise, since cannabinoids have been linked to treating other degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, and diabetes.

Cannabis increases night vision.

When scientists caught wind that Moroccan fisherman claimed to see better in the dark after smoking a generous amount of kief, they decided to investigate further. Outfitted with a machine used for measuring night vision, a 2:1 ratio of high-grade sifted cannabis and tobacco mixture, and a traditional sebsi pipe, the researchers asked Moroccan participants to consume the concentrated herb liberally. According to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the volunteers showed “consistent improvements” in night vision during testing, suggesting there’s something of value here.

Other reports back this evidence up. For example, Jamaican fisherman noticed a significant increase in night vision after ingesting a cannabis tincture. Even more shocking were claims by registered blind journalist Sue Arnold in the Observer. Smoking strong Skunk flower allowed her to see temporarily. “All I remembered about that evening...was the sudden clarity with which I could see everything, as if someone had switched on a 150-watt light bulb in a candlelit room,” she said. Her only complaint was that she couldn’t stand up afterward.

Cannabis impacts visual processing in the brain.

Last year, researchers from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, announced that babies exposed to cannabis in the womb have better vision, finding significant improvement in their ability to track moving objects. Despite the beneficial visual outcome, doctors agree that cannabis exposure can have a negative effect on development in other ways, so don’t tell your pregnant friends to start sparking up just yet. However, this controversial study shows that there is, most-likely, a positive connection between visual processing in the brain and cannabis consumption. In comparison, unborn babies exposed to alcohol demonstrated a negative effect on their vision.

Research like this raises the question, “What other areas of the brain can improve as a result of cannabis?” Many artists claim they are more creative when they consume weed. Science has proven the association between creativity and cannabis. It’s exciting to wonder what researchers will discover next.

Zoe Wilder
Zoe Wilder is a media relations professional and business consultant orbiting cannabis, tech, wellness, music, art, wine and spirits. For 17 years, Zoe has worked with hundreds of clients across a variety of industries to develop and execute inventive promotional content and campaigns that capture the attention of tastemakers and influencers from around the globe.
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