CBD for Eye Inflammation: Does It Help or Bring More Harm?
You’ve heard about CBD’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, but may be curious if those apply to inflammatory eye conditions.
Corneal neuropathic pain, glaucoma, diabetic neuropathy, and retinopathy all involve eye inflammation. CBD may be helpful for some inflammatory eye conditions, but despite being an effective anti-inflammatory, there is conflicting evidence about its efficacy in some particular instances.
There are many claims on the up-and-coming cannabinoids market about CBD. While CBD is an incredible compound overflowing with therapeutic potential, it’s not a miracle cure, and research is still ongoing.
So, before trying it, it’s imperative to understand what type of eye inflammation you’re fighting and the likelihood of whether or not CBD will help you, especially if you have a diagnosed conditions.
Please don’t use this article as medical advice. Instead, ask your ophthalmologist if you have questions about eye inflammation and using CBD as an eye treatment.
What Exactly is CBD?
Hemp plants naturally contain a plethora of therapeutic compounds called cannabinoids. One of the most abundant ones is CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that’s gained popularity as an alternative anti-inflammatory and analgesic for chronic and inflammatory pain, and many other conditions.
CBD is not to be confused with the high-inducing cannabinoid THC, a dominant presence in medical marijuana plants. By definition, hemp plant-derived CBD contains no more than 0.3% THC.
But, as CBD has become more popular, there are CBD products on the market with mislabeled THC contents. To avoid legal issues and unwanted effects from undisclosed THC, buyers should use caution and obtain lab-tested CBD products from trustworthy sources that verify their products’ contents.
The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) for processing cannabinoids like CBD. Once the ECS starts processing CBD, cannabinoid receptors in the immune and nervous systems kick in, restoring the body’s homeostasis.
The immune system’s response to CBD is the main reason for CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects. Pain relief from CBD is attributed to both reduced inflammation and antinociception, the altering of pain perception via the nervous system. CBD also has antioxidant and neuroprotective effects.
Does CBD Promote Healing when Used for Eye Inflammation?
Inflammation is the immune system’s mechanism for healing from infection and injury. However, inflammation sometimes occurs due to dysfunction.
The same is true for eye inflammation. In response to allergies, trauma, a foreign object, irritation, infection, imbalance, or autoimmune, metabolic, or vascular disease, the retina, cornea, and other parts of the eye can become inflamed. Ocular pain is bad enough, but some of these conditions can cause other serious complications like blindness.
Here are some of the conditions related to eye inflammation:
- Uveitis– inflammation in the middle, vascular layer of the eye called the uvea. Uveitis can be either short-lived or chronic and can be present alongside inflammation in other parts of the eye. Uveitis can lead to profound, irreversible vision loss or secondary glaucoma.
- Glaucoma– characterized by an increase in eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure, causes damage the optic nerve and can cause permanent blindness. Glaucoma can develop due to physical or chemical eye injury, blocked blood vessels in the eye, and other inflammatory conditions.
- Keratitis– ‘corneal ulcer’ or inflammation of the cornea, the dome-shaped window covering the pupil and iris can result from bacteria, viruses, fungi, or the presences of parasites.
- Conjunctivitis– ‘pink eye’ or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear mucous membrane over the white of the eye and inside the eyelid.
- Neuropathy and optic neuropathy– Neuropathy can affect the eyes via inflammation and corneal damage, introducing neuropathic corneal pain. Optic neuropathy is disease or damage of the optic nerve, sometimes from inflammatory conditions.
- Diabetic retinopathy– Individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy from damage to blood vessels in the retina, light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. The disease is associated with vascular-neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, and neurodegeneration.
It’s tempting to assume that CBD can help with all of the above ailments, knowing that CBD can be a potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, neuroprotective, and antioxidant with potential cardiovascular benefits.
However, research shows that it’s not that simple. While CBD does have the potential to mitigate many common eye conditions, it may be more helpful for some eye problems than others.
How Does CBD Work Against Eye Inflammation?
Let’s explore the science behind CBD’s relationship with each inflammation-related eye problem to answer the following questions.
Does CBD work against this eye problem’s inflammation and other symptoms/complications? If so, how?
Since the standard treatments for uveitis are corticosteroids and immunosuppressants with severe side effects, one study has tested CBD’s efficacy in experimental models of uveitis.
In the uveitis study, CBD worked somewhat like an immunosuppressant, with lessened cytokine (immune cell) release, inflammatory cell death, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) levels, and Müller cells’ expression of GFAP.
Müller cells are a type of retinal glial cells, central nervous system cells that support neurons in the retina by forming protective myelin and maintaining homeostasis. When Müller cells express retinal glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), it’s a sign of immunoreactivity, cell death and injury, and central nervous system neuronal damage.
So, by controlling overactive immune response, inflammatory cell death, TNF levels, and Müller cell GFAP in this experiment, the CBD showed promise in protecting the retina from inflammation and in reducing cell death due to uveitis.
More research is needed before concluding that CBD can prevent uveitis vision loss and secondary glaucoma. But, these results are promising, especially since CBD is free from most of the adverse effects of current uveitis treatments.
The main indicator and treatment target of glaucoma is increased intraocular pressure (IOP). Glaucoma progression and increased IOP are related to vascular stress and oxidative stress, which are also linked to neuroinflammation. It would be logical to infer that CBD would be helpful since it fights inflammation, including neuroinflammation, and counteracts oxidative stress as an antioxidant.
Counterintuitively, the evidence points to CBD being an unproductive and even counterproductive glaucoma treatment for reducing IOP. For example, one study showed that 20 mg doses of CBD failed to change IOP, while 40 mg doses actually caused a temporary IOP increase (18%), the opposite of a desired outcome.
Medical marijuana or THC lowers IOP significantly (30%), but when CBD is added, it interferes with the helpful effects of THC. The problem with THC is glaucoma patients need a treatment that controls eye pressure 24 hours a day to prevent total vision loss. This is probably not a practical use for THC due to its significantly inebriating properties.
Alternatively, isolate CBG may be the best cannabinoid for lowering intraocular pressure. CBG reduces IOP without significant adverse effects, is neuroprotective against retinal cell death, and is not psychoactive.
Using concentrated 5% CBD oil, researchers have managed to reduce cytokines and inflammation in keratitis models. This efficacy is thought to be due to the CBD permeating corneal cells by getting through the corneal stroma, a dense connective tissue comprising the thickest layer of the cornea.
Therefore, CBD may reduce key inflammatory markers linked to cornea tissue damage and impaired vision from keratitis.
There doesn’t appear to be much data about CBD’s effects on conjunctivitis. But, there is reason to be optimistic. That’s because CBD is known to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory actions and seems to help with eye inflammation in other conditions like diabetic retinopathy and retinal inflammation.
Neuropathy, Corneal Neuropathic Pain, and Optic Neuropathy
CBD has demonstrated significant efficacy in peripheral neuropathy and neuropathic pain to the extent that a THC + CBD drug has been approved in some countries for those suffering from MS and cancer. Researchers tend to attribute CBD’s effects on neuropathy and neuropathic pain to its calming effect on the immune and nervous systems as well as its neuroprotection.
Research into CBD specifically for corneal neuropathic pain is promising, suggesting that it may be a viable treatment for ocular pain and underlying inflammation.
Inflammation is a key feature of diabetic retinopathy, alongside inflammatory cells, oxidative stress, hyperpermeability, and ultimately, retinal neuronal cell death. CBD can fight the effects of this condition as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective compound.
There is evidence that CBD could help protect the retina in diabetic retinopathy by reducing inflammation, retinal neuronal cell death, and blood-retinal barrier permeability.
Three Best CBD Products To Possibly Reduce Eye Inflammation
To be clear, it’s never advised to apply a CBD product, or anything else, directly into your eyes without the guidance of a medical professional. Once you consult an eye doctor to confirm that CBD is a safe option for you, here are some of the best CBD products to consider.
CBD Oil Capsules- ReliefX CBD Capsules 750mg CBD + 750mg CBG
Cannabinoids may have compounding therapeutic effects when combined. So this formula offers all the pain and inflammation-fighting relief of CBD plus CBG. Each capsule has 25 mg of each, more than enough for most people to notice effects with one or two daily doses.
CBD Oil- Isolate CBD Oil 500-1500 mg
Though it contains no other cannabinoids, this isolate CBD oil tincture includes terpenes for enhanced relief. The dropper allows you to measure out and adjust doses with precision.
CBD Topicals- CBD & CBG Cel Roller 1000 mg
Our CBD topicals are not intended for direct contact with the eyes or any other mucous membrane. But, to possibly alleviate eye pain and inflammation, this is an easy way to apply CBD to areas like the brow, forehead, temples, cheekbones, and the bridge of the nose so the formula can go to work fast on the affected region.
FAQs About CBD for Eye Inflammation
Can CBD oil irritate eyes?
Yes, many CBD oils have ingredients that irritate the eyes badly when applied directly, even though highly concentrated pure CBD oil will not. Talk to an eye doctor before putting any product directly in your eyes.
Is CBD good for dry eyes?
Yes, CBD can reduce inflammation and discomfort from dry eyes in the appreopriate dose.
Does CBD lower eye pressure?
No, CBD does not have eye pressure lowering effects on glaucoma.
How quickly does CBD reduce eye inflammation?
CBD effects onset will vary but usually starts within 15 minutes.
What surprised you about CBD for eye inflammation?
Although the facts support CBD for many eye inflammation issues, it does not have helpful effects on glaucoma. Did you learn anything new about CBD or inflammation-related eye problems? Are you intrigued and ready to try cannabinoids for nagging eye problems or other conditions?
Always clear it with a doctor before trying CBD or any alternative treatment. But, the wealth of new information about CBD’s impressive characteristics is giving hope to more and more people with all kinds of different health struggles.
If you’re ready to take the next steps in finding a solution, here’s where you can buy CBD for eye inflammation, knowing it’s potent, high-quality, hemp-derived, and third party lab-tested.
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