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CBD is a chemical found in marijuana that is considered medicinal, and it has been advertised as a treatment for many issues, including glaucoma. Learn why CBD does not actually work well for eye treatment. Cannabis CBD eye drops There are at least 113 different cannabinoids that have been isolated from the cannabis plant. The most notable, are THC and CBD. THC exerts its effects by binding to

CBD & the Eyes: Research & Can It Help You?

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CBD has become a touted treatment for various issues, including glaucoma. This is based on older medical studies and anecdotal reports that CBD oil, eye drops, and other forms of medical marijuana help to ease anxiety, eye strain, and eye pressure.

One of the first studies on medical marijuana for eye conditions involved glaucoma. This is a group of serious eye disorders associated with damage to the optic nerve, usually due to high fluid pressure in the eye, or intraocular pressure (IOP). This pressure must be lowered to prevent blindness. Further studies of medical marijuana have found that the drug does not actually lower pressure for long enough.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved CBD for some very limited medical uses, and several states have legalized both medical and recreational use of marijuana, both THC and CBD.

Dispensaries recommend CBD for eye treatment, especially glaucoma. Medical research has found that medical marijuana does not lower eye pressure for more than three or four hours, which is not long enough to prevent damage to the optic nerve. Paradoxically, it may increase the risk of damage due to fluctuations in eye pressure over the course of the day.

In fact, a recent medical study found that THC, not CBD, lowered eye pressure. By itself, CBD raises IOP, and in combination with THC, it can prevent THC from lowering IOP. THC is the intoxicating, recreational chemical in marijuana, which can be addictive and cause problems with thinking or memory.

It is important for you to follow medical advice from your optometrist and ophthalmologist to manage all eye conditions, from dry eyes to glaucoma. Don’t attempt to self-treat any eye issue with CBD.

Table of Contents

Cannabidiol (CBD) & Your Eyes: High Intraocular Pressure Is Dangerous

Glaucoma is a group of related eye conditions involving damage to the retina and optic nerve that leads to vision loss, typically due to high fluid pressure inside the eyes. Symptoms tend to start slowly until enough of the optic nerve is damaged that the person develops tunnel vision or another form of lost vision. Regular eye exams can help to diagnose glaucoma or high ocular pressure, so an optometrist or ophthalmologist can monitor this progression and ensure you receive appropriate treatment if you begin to lose your sight.

Treating glaucoma starts with medicated eye drops that are designed to lower intraocular pressure. If these do not work, there are several approaches to surgery that can lower fluid pressure in the eyes and prevent vision loss.

There are side effects to all these options, so many people with glaucoma, or who are at risk for glaucoma, want to find alternatives. One proposed alternative is CBD oil, or the cannabidiol molecule derived from medical marijuana.

Using Medical Marijuana Like CBD for Your Eyes Does Not Work

As marijuana has become more popular and many states have legalized both medical and recreational uses for this drug, CBD oil is being promoted for a range of uses, including as a glaucoma treatment.

There are very few medical studies on the effectiveness of CBD or medical marijuana, although the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has information on potentially beneficial uses for this approach to treatment. They have approved one CBD-based drug for two types of severe, rare epilepsy. Some forms of medical marijuana have been examined to treat eye conditions, especially glaucoma, but newer research suggests that CBD is not an effective treatment for your eyes.

Medical marijuana has been touted to generally ease physical and emotional pain, including nausea related to cancer treatment, chronic pain, general anxiety disorder, and other conditions. In the 1970s and 1980s, medical marijuana was studied as an eye treatment, particularly for serious conditions like cataracts and glaucoma, which can lead to blindness. The research found that marijuana could lower intraocular pressure for three or four hours at a time, and it was more effective at lowering pressure in the eyes than glaucoma drops.

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However, the studies also found that these pressure-lowering effects would wear off after a certain amount of time, while the effects of glaucoma eye drop treatment lasted at least 12 hours. It is vital for eye health that treatment to manage intraocular pressure lasts for a long time and is consistent. When eye pressure rises and lowers several times throughout the day, damage to the optic nerve can get worse.

Medical Studies on CBD & the Eyes Suggests CBD Is a Dangerous Chemical

CBD in particular is receiving a lot of attention from the medical community and medical marijuana proponents. However, studies suggest that the CBD compound may make intraocular pressure higher, while THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in marijuana associated with substance abuse and getting high, is responsible for lowering eye pressure.

A study conducted in 2018 found that THC and CBD regulate eye pressure differently. When they are separated from marijuana, they will have radically different effects.

The results of the 2018 study found that a single dose of THC drops lowered IOP by 28 percent for 8 hours in male mice, although humans with glaucoma need 24-hour pressure relief to reduce damage to the optic nerve. The study also found two interesting problems. First, CBD inhibited THC from lowering IOP. Second, the effects of THC on eye pressure were sex-dependent, with male mice receiving noticeably greater benefit from the treatment.

  • Accelerated heartbeat, which can trigger anxiety or feel like anxiety.
  • Decreased blood pressure overall, which can be harmful to the cardiovascular system.
  • Reduced blood flow to several parts of the body, including the optic nerve, which can increase damage.
  • Increased risk of lung cancer specifically from smoking or vaping marijuana products.
  • Greater risk of addiction with any amount of marijuana treatment containing THC.
  • Drowsiness, memory loss, and cognitive issues associated with abusing marijuana.
  • Struggles to hold down a job or drive safely if drug-tested.

Most medical research suggests that CBD does not intoxicate you the same way THC does, but taking types of medical marijuana marketed as “high CBD” might mean there are traces of THC included in the substance. THC is addictive because it can change brain chemistry to make you feel relaxed, less anxious, sleepy, or even happy. The drug can also cause negative side effects like changes in mood, spikes in anxiety or paranoia, delusions, and trouble thinking or problem-solving.

Follow Your Eye Doctor’s Treatment Plan for Treating Eye Conditions

Some dispensaries hype CBD for the eyes aside from glaucoma treatment, suggesting that it can ease pain from surgery, reduce dry eye, and even alleviate eye strain. However, there are no medical studies to back up these claims. The changes to eye pressure due to CBD may lead to damage to your vision, even if you do not have glaucoma.

The only currently approved medical approach for glaucoma is regular eye exams to monitor the condition. Follow your eye doctor’s advice to manage this condition if you are diagnosed with it. This will likely mean eye drops first to prevent vision loss. It could also mean laser eye surgery, drainage devices, or other types of surgery to alleviate intraocular pressure and reduce damage to the optic nerve.


Glaucoma. (July 2020). National Eye Institute (NEI).

Cannabidiol (CBD) – What We Know and What We Don’t. (August 2018). Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.

Is There a Risk of Blindness With CBD? (2018). United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

CBD Oil May Worsen Glaucoma. (February 2019). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

What Is Marijuana? (December 2019). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The information provided on this page should not be used in place of information provided by a doctor or specialist. To learn more, read our Privacy Policy and Editorial Policy pages.

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Cannabis CBD eye drops

There are at least 113 different cannabinoids that have been isolated from the cannabis plant. The most notable, are THC and CBD.

THC exerts its effects by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors in humans. CBD does not act on the cell wall, but rather inside the cell. It is for this reason that CBD has no addictive potential, no psychoactive activity, no withdrawal, and no toxicity.

CBD has multiple health benefits for insomnia, anxiety, depression, seizures, autism, pain, social anxiety, addiction, and many more. Recent studies show that CBD can also help in the treatment of some eye conditions.

CBD is alleged to be particularly beneficial on the eye due to its neuroprotective effects. Preventing apoptosis of the optic nerve cell can preserve vision, the ultimate goal in the treatment of all diseases of the eye.

The challenge of using a topical cannabis product on the eye

CBD is a natural oil, and as such, is lipophilic. The cornea which is the first layer of the eye is coated with a hydrophilic layer. On a mechanistic level, it is challenging for an oil-based substance to successfully pass through the water-based liquid lining the cornea and penetrate the eye.

One idea that is being investigated is the use of liposomes. Liposomes have hydrophilic heads and hydrophobic tails that line themselves up into a sphere. Current studies have demonstrated that topically applied CBD in a liposomal formulation can successfully penetrate the hydrophilic layer that lines the cornea.

Why use topicals cannabis product when there are other delivery systems available?

Topicals will eliminate all systemic side effects and maximize the dose delivered to the eye.

The problem, as with all topicals, is that less than 5% of any dose delivered reaches the intraocular tissues. The surface of the eye is moistened by fluid which is constantly flushing the surface of the eye and drains out through the lacrimal duct. In addition, any medication administered must first penetrate the hydrophilic layer that coats the cornea and following that, the lipophilic corneal lining.

CBD and corneal abrasions

When the cornea is damaged, there is intense pain due to a dysfunction in the sensory receptors that line the cornea. As a result of the physical disruption from the abrasion, intense inflammation develops. Both THC and CBD can provide analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits, but THC is limited due to its psychoactive effects which may include dysphoria, disruption of short-term memory, cognitive impairments, sense of time distortion, and reduced coordination. CBD however, can provide the analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits without any psychoactive side effects.

What ultimately causes visual loss and how can cannabinoids prevent it?

Visual loss is caused by ischemia of the optic nerve – which is seen in diabetic retinopathy, or by increased pressure on the optic nerve, essentially crushing the nerve – which is seen in glaucoma.

Cannabinoids decrease ischemia and improve oxygen delivery to the optic nerve by decreasing glutamate release. Glutamate activates NMDA receptors which cause calcium influx into cells, frees radical generation, and subsequent cell death. CBD can prevent the death of nerve cells by scavenging the toxic reactive oxygen radicals released by glutamate activation.

In glaucoma, there is increased intraocular pressure which eventually crushes the optic nerve. Cannabinoids have vasorelaxant properties and as a result, decrease the intraocular pressure by dilating the capillaries thus promoting increased exit flow of the aqueous humor.

What medical benefit does CBD offer that other topical agents do not?

As an example, the most common ocular injury – corneal abrasions, is treated with a myriad of agents which include topical corticosteroids, tricyclic antidepressants, opioids, and agents that stimulate the GABA receptors. All of these pharmacotherapeutic agents are suboptimal and have side effects.

Studies were performed on mice models given experimentally induced corneal surface injuries. When topical CBD was administered, corneal pain and inflammation were reduced via activation of the 5-HT1A receptor. CBD provides adequate pain relief and reduces the inflammation and does so without any of the side effects seen in conventional agents.

CBD & diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the retinal diseases associated with vascular neuroinflammation. It is the leading cause of blindness in the Western world and treatment options are very limited.

Diabetes causes superoxide formation which leads to the release of adenosine and pro-inflammatory cytokines. In preclinical studies, CBD was found to block superoxide formation. CBD produced the antioxidants that reduced the inflammation in the damaged retina of the diabetic.

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CBD and dry eyes

The major cause of dry eyes is a dysfunction of the meibomian gland. The meibomian gland is located behind the eyelashes on both the top and lower eyelids. The fatty substance they produce slows the evaporation of the tears. This lack of oil production results in inadequate tear production with the clinical manifestation of dry eyes. CBD applied topically can help restore the function of the meibomian glands and reduce dry eyes.

Another cause of dry eyes is corneal neuralgia – also treated by CBD. In corneal neuralgia, the corneal nerves become dysfunctional and send pain signals to the brain that are out of proportion to the physical insult, if indeed there is any injury at all. The brain perceives the sensation known as ‘dry eyes.’ CBD applied topically eliminates the neuralgia of the pain felt from the dry eyes.

Future research on CBD and Cannabis eye drops

Work is underway to find the best microemulsions and cyclodextrins so that CBD, a lipophilic agent, can penetrate the hydrophilic aqueous fluid that continually washes the surface of the cornea.

Take home points about Cannabis CBD eye drops

Inflammation leads to damage to the cornea, uvea, retina, and ultimately to the optic nerve.

When inflammation is not blocked, it leads to apoptosis of the optic nerve or death of the cell, in other words – blindness.

CBD can address the inflammation and we believe, can help prevent the endpoint of all ocular diseases which is blindness.

About Cannabis GxP consultancy

Cannabis GXP is an Israel-based consultancy firm working within the cannabis industry.

We are currently engaged in revolutionizing the world of cannabis and hemp cultivation, production and regulation, and are reaching out to growers and manufacturers across the world who wants to join this amazing ride.

We are proud to stand at the forefront of the GMP standards and regulation fields in Israel and worldwide.

Our team is compelled to spread the message of the importance of cannabis regulation and standardization as the world enters a new era of cannabis legislation.

We aim to position our clients with their best foot forward when it comes to anything and everything cannabis related.

We assist companies and growers with facility design, Quality Assurance, Good Practices (GAP/GMP/GLP/GDP), training, and dealing with local and global regulation. Cannabis GXP strives to assist our clients with the development, manufacture and distribution of pharma-grade cannabis products, with a strong emphasis on safety, efficacy, and professionalism.

Cannabis GXP is a subsidiary company of Bio-Chem Ltd. (2007) – a consultancy company for Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices, Cosmetics, and Supplements, based in Israel (http://bio-chem.co.il/en/home/)

Some of our esteemed clients: Teva, Tikun Olam, J&J, Weizmann Institute of Science, BOL pharma, Seach, Nuuvera, Gamma-Cert, Cannabillis, Monsanto, Evogene, Collplant, Sigma-Aldrich, and many more.

Our Cannabis consultancy services include:

  • Investigational Cannabis product development and clinical trials
  • Cannabis growing & manufacturing facilities design
  • Cannabis Quality Assurance & Good practices (GxP)
  • Cannabis product manufacturing technology
  • Cannabis product regulation & FDA/EU submission
  • Novel Cannabis APIs and product delivery systems


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Increase in aqueous solubility, stability and in vivo corneal permeability of anandamide by hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin.” Int J Pharm (1996); 137:209–17.

“Anti–Inflammatory Effects of Cannabinoids in Endotoxin–Induced Uveitis.” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2005, Vol.46, 972

“The Non-psychoactive Phytocannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD), and the Synthetic Derivatives, HU308 and CBD-DMH, Reduces Hyperalgesia and Inflammation in a Mouse Model of Corneal injury.” FASEB Journal of Pharmacology Published Online: 1 Apr 2017 Abstract Number: 811.7

“The Cannabinoids Δ 8 THC, CBD, and HU-308 Act via Distinct Receptors to Reduce Corneal Pain and Inflammation.” Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018; 3(1): 11–20.

“Anti–Inflammatory Effects of Cannabinoids in Endotoxin–Induced Uveitis.” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2005, Vol.46, 972

“Neuroprotective Effect of(−)Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol in N-Methyl-d-Aspartate-Induced Retinal Neurotoxicity: Involvement of Peroxynitrite.” The American Journal of Pathology Volume 163, Issue 5, November 2003, Pages 1997-2008

“Cannabidiol inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase protein expression and nitric oxide production in β-amyloid stimulated PC12 neurons through p38 MAP kinase and NF-κB involvement.” Neuroscience Letters Volume 399, Issues 1–2, 15 May 2006, Pages 91-95

“Turning down the thermostat: modulating the endocannabinoid system in ocular inflammation and pain.” Front Pharmacol. 2016;7:304

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