Retinitis Pigmentosa is a genetic eye disease that leads to severe vision loss and blindness. The disease affects 1 in 4,000 people and worsens as cells in the retina, called photoreceptors, die off.
But a study published in Experimental Eye Research shows the chemicals in cannabis, known as cannabinoids, may slow down this retinal degeneration.
Using a synthetic form of THC, the compound responsible for cannabis’ high, researchers at the University of Alicante in Spain were able to prevent vision loss in rats with the disorder.
The data suggests that cannabinoids are potentially useful to delay retinal degeneration in retinitis pigmentosa patients. – Dr. Nicolás Cuenca, Study’s Lead Author.
At the end of 90 days, rats that received treatment performed better on vision tests and had 40% more photoreceptors than untreated rats. THC also seemed to protect a number of other eye structures, including inner layers of the retina.
Although encouraging, the results were not much of a surprise.
As the team notes, cannabinoids have shown promise in treating a variety of degenerative disorders, ranging from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to Strokes.
They’re even seeing use in other vision related problems, such as Glaucoma.
While the latest study did not look at the mechanisms underlying the benefits of cannabinoids in Retinitis Pigmentosa, the authors conclude that further research is required.
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