Cannabidiol (CBD)’s anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties may make it beneficial for people with eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy. However, CBD may also raise the pressure in the eyes, making it unsuitable for those with glaucoma.

CBD refers to one of the many chemicals, or cannabinoids, present in the cannabis plant. Ongoing research is investigating the therapeutic potential of CBD and its potential health benefits.

Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is another well-known cannabinoid, CBD lacks the psychoactive effects that many people may associate with the characteristic high of cannabis.

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a biological system in the body that helps regulate and balance key bodily functions.

The ECS plays a role in pain and inflammation, and the eyes feature many cannabinoid receptors. As such, using CBD to target these receptors may help to treat some eye problems. However, further research is necessary to avoid any adverse effects.

More research is necessary to understand these potential benefits and any possible side effects. In this article, we will discuss the potential side effects of CBD oil on the eyes and how to use CBD safely.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

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Evidence notes that the eyes include cannabinoid receptors, which form part of the ECS, and these receptors play a role in vision. As cannabinoids such as CBD can interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the eye, these chemicals may play a role in treating certain eye conditions.

A 2022 review highlights that CBD may have therapeutic potential for treating eye conditions due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties.

However, some research shows mixed results with CBD and treating eye conditions.

For example, research investigating whether cannabis or cannabis-derived products, could treat glaucoma found that THC could lower intraocular pressure (IOP) for a short period. This term refers to the fluid pressure of the eye.

If the pressure becomes too high, it can cause glaucoma and damage the optic nerve, which may lead to vision loss. However, evidence suggests that, unlike THC, CBD may increase IOP and the risk of glaucoma instead.

A 2018 mouse study found that CBD may raise the pressure inside the eyes and can also interfere with the effects of THC. As such, health experts currently do not recommend cannabis products for treating eye conditions such as glaucoma.

Nevertheless, other research indicates that CBD may be beneficial. A 2015 study notes that CBD reduced inflammation and neurotoxicity in rats with diabetes.

As a result, it could offer a promising treatment for diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, a 2018 study suggests that CBD, and other cannabinoids, could reduce corneal pain and help treat corneal injuries.

This highlights that more research is necessary to understand how CBD interacts with the eyes and its potential benefits and risks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide the following tips for protecting vision:

  • Regular eye exams: It is advisable for a person to regularly visit their eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam. They will be able to check a person’s vision and detect early signs of eye conditions.
  • Giving the eyes a rest: If a person often spends time on a computer, phone, or tablet, regular screen breaks can help to reduce eyestrain.
  • Knowing family history: Many eye conditions are hereditary. Therefore, knowing family history can help determine whether a person is at higher risk.
  • Cleaning the hands and contact lenses: If a person wears contact lenses, health experts recommend that they thoroughly wash their hands when handling the lenses and disinfect the lenses to prevent infections.
  • Wearing protective eyewear and practicing eye safety: Using protective products, such as safety glasses, sunglasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards, can help protect the eyes when working with machinery, playing sports, or doing other activities.
  • Maintain blood sugars: If a person has diabetes, it is important to control the condition to try and prevent potential eye complications.

Additionally, the National Eye Institute (NEI) adds that it is important to protect overall health to help keep eyes healthy. They note that this can include:

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), other possible side effects of CBD may include:

  • liver injury
  • changes in alertness
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • changes in mood
  • alter the effectiveness of other drugs
  • damage to male fertility

Click here to learn more about the possible side effects of CBD oil.

CBD is available in a variety of formulations, and people can use CBD oil products in many different ways. For eye health, a person may consider ingesting CBD products orally, such as oils, gummies, or capsules.

Alternatively, a person can also use eye drops that contain CBD. However, it is important to consider the potential side effects that CBD may have on the eyes.

When using a CBD oil product, health experts recommend that people follow the instructions on the label. Regarding dosage, it is important to consider factors such as a person’s body weight and the concentration of the product. Research is still ongoing to better understand effective doses of these products.

Click here to learn more about CBD dosage.

If deciding to use CBD products, it is advisable that a person gets them from a reputable source and discusses CBD usage with their doctor to ensure it will not affect any other medicines a person is currently taking or cause any adverse effects.

More research into CBD and its potential impact on the eyes is necessary. Some evidence notes that CBD can interact with receptors in the eye and may have therapeutic use for treating certain eye conditions.

However, other research indicates that CBD may increase pressure in the eye and can make other eye conditions worse.

As such, it is advisable to follow a doctor’s guidance for treating eye conditions and use the medications they prescribe. If a person is considering using CBD, they should first discuss it with their healthcare professional.