Cannabis for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
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What is AMD?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The condition is usually caused when a certain part of the retina called the macula starts to deteriorate over time leading to vision loss. However, cases of AMD causing permanent vision loss are quite rare.

It is interesting to note that people past the age of 60 are more prone to developing AMD. The National Eye Institute in the US has recently published reports indicating that around 11 million US citizens are affected by this disorder.

Now, let’s jump to the big question. Even though AMD is an age-related disorder, does cannabis provide any sort of aid in treating various AMD-related symptoms? The answer is yes. Still, more and more research is being done on the topic to get definitive proof.

Cannabis and its role in relieving the symptoms of AMD

The most prominent role played by cannabis in relieving the symptoms of AMD is associated with the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis. The compounds are known for temporarily lowering intraocular pressure which eventually lowers the factors contributing to vision loss, specifically for patients who are suffering from glaucoma as well.

However, a study published in Pharmacology and Therapeutics suggests that while THC can considerably lower intraocular pressure, CBD can act as an opposing agent to the anti-inflammatory properties of THC leading to a decrease in intraocular pressure reduction. This suggests the use of high-THC cannabis strains for more effective results.

Medical cannabis against inflammation

Scientific studies have proved the effectiveness of medical cannabis against inflammation. Cannabinoids rich cannabis strains are known to directly influence the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This results in the regulation of the human immune system by influencing the ECS receptors.

Here’s what happens, when the immune system is activated, it sends out immune cells that have the ability to attack bacteria but often damage the healthy cells as well during the process of elimination. That’s how inflammation occurs in the first place.

Cannabis can achieve a significant reduction in inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agents making it a perfect choice for reducing intraocular pressure caused due to inflammation.

A patient’s approach to cannabis as a Neuroprotectant

So far, there is no established evidence based on clinical trials that claim the effectiveness of cannabis in treating AMD or similar disorders However, we have interviewed patients who claim that using cannabis-based products has surely relieved their AMD symptoms quite significantly.

According to most of the patients, the usual way of treating AMD is through VEGF injection which is a highly invasive and painful procedure. However, patients who started using cannabis products by placing pills under their tongues have reported a significant improvement in their AMD symptoms which further needs to be evaluated scientifically.

What does the research say about AMD and medical cannabis?

So far, there is no concrete clinical trials-based research done on further exploring the role of cannabis for AMD treatment. Cannabis smoke is known to contain tar and some other carcinogens that can further deteriorate the AMD symptoms so smoking must be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, patients have claimed a significant improvement in AMD symptoms after using cannabis products in the form of pills or tinctures.

It is important to identify the multiple types of AMD as it will help in determining the right mode of treatment. Following are the two most common AMD types to affect millions of people around the globe,


Most of the people diagnosed with AMD have dry AMD which is a condition that is related to the macula getting thinner with age. The disease is also referred to as the atrophic AMD and progresses over time through three stages. Early, intermediate, and late.

This type of AMD is known for progressively getting worse over time with symptoms appearing during the intermediate or late stages. In most cases, people affected by intermediate dry AMD won’t show any significant symptoms as long as a thorough and extensive eye exam is conducted.


Wet AMD is a quite rare form of late AMD which is not commonly diagnosed in patients. The disease is characterized by late AMD symptoms and significantly faster vision loss. It is important to note that any dry AMD can transform into wet AMD at any stage but a wet AMD will always be a late-stage AMD.

The disease occurs when abnormal, leaky blood vessels start to grow at the back of the eye which eventually damages the macula. But as mentioned earlier, only about 10% of AMD cases end up getting a wt AMD diagnosis. However, 90% of these cases lead to legal blindness.

What are some prominent risk factors associated with AMD?

  1. Age: People over 60 are at a higher risk
  2. Family history and genetics: Several genes are linked to AMD that can be inherited
  3. Race: Caucasian people have higher odds of developing AMD
  4. Smoking: First and second-hand smoke increases the odds of developing AMD
  5. Obesity: May accelerate the development of intermediate-stage AMD to more severe late-stage
  6. Cardiovascular disease: Conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels like diabetes and high blood pressure may increase the risk of wet AMD.

Apart from these known factors that contribute to the development of AMD, there are several environmental factors as well that may influence the development of AMD over time.

Can lifestyle changes prevent AMD development?

Yes, research has now shown that AMD can be prevented by prominent lifestyle changes. Remember, AMD is an age-related disorder that worsens over time as the body’s natural immune responses weaken.

Following these practices can help you evade the risk of developing AMD at later stages of life,

  • Regular physical activity
  • Avoid smoking
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels

Final Note

Cannabis can be a great alternative for treating AMD as many patients have reported the beneficial impact of cannabis on AMD symptoms. However, more concrete scientific research is still needed to be done.

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