Last updated on: 10/21/2009 | Author:

National Eye Institute Biography

Con to the question "Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?"

“Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma. In an effort to determine whether marijuana, or drugs derived from marijuana, might be effective as a glaucoma treatment, the National Eye Institute (NEI) supported research studies beginning in 1978. These studies demonstrated that some derivatives of marijuana transiently lowered IOP when administered orally, intravenously, or by smoking, but not when topically applied to the eye.

However, none of these studies demonstrated that marijuana — or any of its components — could lower IOP as effectively as drugs already on the market. In addition, some potentially serious side effects were noted, including an increased heart rate and a decrease in blood pressure in studies using smoked marijuana.

The identification of side effects from smoked marijuana, coupled with the emergence of highly effective FDA-approved medications for glaucoma treatment, may have led to diminished interest in this research area.”

“Glaucoma and Marijuana Use,” National Eye Institute website, May 13, 2009


“The National Eye Institute (NEI) was established by Congress in 1968 to protect and prolong the vision of the American people. NEI research leads to sight-saving treatments, reduces visual impairment and blindness, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. NEI-supported research has advanced our knowledge of how the visual system functions in health and disease.”

“Mission Statement,” NEI website (accessed Oct. 12, 2009)


“As part of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute’s mission is to ‘conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the blind.'”

“Mission Statement,” NEI website (accessed Oct. 12, 2009)

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