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Unapproved Glaucoma Treatments

There are many unapproved treatments that are promoted on the internet and elsewhere, including marijuana/cannabidiol (CBD), stem cells, herbal medicines, and nutritional supplements.

These treatments are not part of the standard of care in glaucoma treatment and may negatively impact your current treatment. You should discuss any additional treatments you are considering with your doctor before starting them.

Stem cells

Stem cells have not yet been properly tested in patients with glaucoma to look for their ability to stabilize or reverse vision loss. The risks for undergoing stem cell injections could be significant, including infection, inflammation, and more severe vision loss.

Marijuana/Cannabidiol

While marijuana does lower eye pressure, it has major drawbacks as a treatment for a chronic, long-term disease like glaucoma, including only temporary reduction in eye pressure and physical and mental side effects of use including impaired judgment and coordination, increased paranoia, elevated heart rate, and eye irritation. Cannabidiol, or “CBD,” may actually increase eye pressure and therefore increase your risk of vision loss.

Herbal Medicines and Nutritional Supplements

While good nutrition plays a role in disease prevention and overall health, there is no convincing data that herbal medicines or nutritional supplements, such as vitamins, help to prevent glaucoma. Certain herbs such as ginkgo biloba and bilberry may even increase the risk of bleeding with glaucoma surgery.
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Source: Glaucoma Research Foundation’s free educational booklet, Understanding and Living with Glaucoma.

Last reviewed on June 26, 2020

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