We often associate cannabis use with bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils. But what other effects does it have on our eye health? Although there is still a lack of research regarding the impact of cannabis on vision, it is known that this plant does interfere with our eye functions. However, there is no need to worry since most of these symptoms disappear once the effects of the plant wear off. Dr. Michel Pop, an ophthalmologist at Cliniques Michel Pop, explores the main effects of cannabis on our vision.
Table of Contents
Red Eyes: A Visual Marker
The most recognizable and well-known effect of cannabis on ocular health is the appearance of red eyes. This is caused by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a compound found in the plant that reduces blood pressure. As a result, blood vessels dilate and blood circulation increases. This inflation of blood vessels in the eyes leads to the redness we observe. Although it may be striking, this effect has no long-term consequences on our eye health.
Slower Image Processing by the Retina
Another effect of cannabis on our vision is the deceleration of the brain’s image and information processing. Spatial perception is altered, and our eye-hand reflexes slow down under the influence of this plant. Therefore, it is advisable to consume cannabis in a secure and relaxing environment.
Eye Fatigue: A Strain on the Eyes
Cannabis has the potential to modify ocular movements and strain the eyes, making it more difficult to read small characters on a screen or comprehend information. This eye fatigue can be experienced by individuals consuming cannabis.
Spatial Perception Impairment
Driving under the influence of cannabis should never be considered due to the impairment it causes to ocular movements. Spatial perception is disrupted, especially when the eyes scan the horizon to gain orientation.
Dazzlement and Imbalance in Vision
In rarer cases, cannabis-induced pupil dilation can cause dazzlement and imbalances between near and far vision. Individuals who wear multifocal contact lenses may experience a reduction in peripheral vision after consuming cannabis.
Ocular Dryness and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Cannabis also affects ocular health by reducing the number of eye blinks, resulting in dryness and dysfunction of the Meibomian glands. These symptoms can be uncomfortable for contact lens wearers or individuals who have undergone laser surgeries such as PRK, Lasik, Smile, or Relex.
It is generally safe to resume cannabis consumption 24 hours after ocular surgeries such as cataract, Lasik, intraocular lenses, and EVO+ lenses. However, it is highly recommended to consult your surgeon before doing so.
Potential Treatment for Glaucoma?
Cannabis has been considered as a potential treatment for glaucoma, a condition that increases ocular pressure and damages the optic nerve. By reducing ocular pressure, cannabis might seem like a suitable option. However, the effects are short-lived and can impair a person’s normal functioning. Therefore, this treatment option is not currently recommended for individuals with glaucoma.
More research is needed to fully understand the effects of cannabis on color vision, visual acuity, and the visual field’s scope. In the meantime, it is essential to approach cannabis consumption with caution and care.
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