Cannabis is a plant that people may consume for recreational and medicinal purposes. It may provide some health benefits for certain conditions.

Macular degeneration is an eye disease that causes a person’s central vision to become blurry.

Treatment for macular degeneration cannot restore vision. Rather, treatment helps slow the loss of vision. Alongside injectable medications, natural remedies, such as supplements, may help.

People may explore methods to treat their eye condition at home. A qualified healthcare professional can determine whether the method is safe for the person before they try it.

This article looks at whether smoking cannabis contributes to macular degeneration, the effects of cannabis on eye health, CBD and macular degeneration, and how to maximize overall eye health.

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Photography by J. Anthony/Stocksy United

A 2022 study suggests that cannabis could accelerate the loss of blood vessels due to its anti-angiogenic properties. Therefore, using cannabis could cause macular degeneration to develop sooner in younger people because it speeds up blood vessel loss.

Cannabis smoke, like tobacco smoke, contains a similar amount of carcinogenic and toxic compounds that may damage the eye’s blood vessels.

On the other hand, other research from 2022 has shown that cannabis may reduce the risk of macular degeneration because it may delay the inflammatory process that damages the macula.

Similarly, a 2019 review of studies suggests there may be some benefits of cannabis for other eye conditions, such as glaucoma.

Due to the discrepancy in research, it is hard to draw a definitive conclusion on the benefits or risks of cannabis for macular degeneration.

Medical professionals typically recommend other types of treatment, such as intravitreal injections.

Learn more about cannabis.

Red eyes are one of the most noticeable effects of smoking cannabis. The component tetrahydrocannabinol in cannabis lowers pressure both in the eyes and the body. This causes the eye blood vessels to dilate, resulting in bloodshot eyes.

2021 research concludes that cannabis has significant adverse effects on certain visual functions, including:

  • visual acuity, which is the ability to identify shapes and details
  • contrast sensitivity
  • nighttime vision

A 2017 study compared the retinal function of people who used cannabis with those who did not. Researchers found a delayed response time for cannabis users, which may impair the eyesight of people who use cannabis regularly.

More research is needed to determine whether the effects of cannabis apply to long-term eye health and vision.

Find out more about the effects of cannabis.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound of the cannabis plant that may offer some health benefits. A 2022 review of studies recognizes CBD for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers also discuss examining CBD’s potential in treating macular degeneration. Future studies can explore the possible use of CBD as a treatment for macular degeneration in humans.

Medical professionals will not recommend CBD as a formal line of treatment for macular degeneration, but it may be useful for other conditions, such as pain management.

Read more about CBD from our dedicated hub.

A person can maximize their eye health in various ways:

  • Eat a diet high in nutritious foods that eye health, such as dark, leafy greens and fish.
  • Get regular physical activity each week to reduce the risk of developing conditions that could lead to vision issues.
  • Attend regular eye appointments to check vision changes.
  • Discuss the risks of developing hereditary eye conditions with a doctor.
  • Wear glasses if instructed by an eye doctor.
  • Take care when inserting and removing contact lenses.
  • Avoid touching eyes with dirty hands or chemical products.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from sun damage.
  • Follow the 20/20/20 rule to give the eyes a break from screens and prevent eyestrain.
  • Avoid smoking to reduce the risk of developing eye conditions.

Learn more from our dedicated hub for eye health.

Macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition that may cause blurry vision over time. People may receive medical treatment to slow vision loss. They may also follow complementary treatments, such as taking supplements and eating certain foods.

Smoking cannabis may have some potential benefits for other eye conditions, such as glaucoma, so experts suggest the same may be true for macular degeneration.

However, the research is inconclusive. Some evidence suggests cannabis may reduce the risk of macular degeneration or slow the progression of the disease. Other research suggests that cannabis may lead to people developing the condition earlier than those who did not smoke cannabis.

A person can talk with a doctor to learn how to protect their eye health.