Regular marijuana use may affect quality of vision

03-24-2017 Posted in cannabis use disorder, Marijuana

Marijuana’s potency as an addictive drug continues to be a matter of debate in the United States. The adverse effects of marijuana due to a prolonged use, however, cannot be denied. Scientists are now testing the implications of marijuana use on retinal functioning that may affect the vision of an individual.

A group of researchers in the study, titled, “Association Between Regular Cannabis Use and Ganglion Cell Dysfunction” examined if persistent cannabis use can lead to alteration of functioning of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) necessary for collecting visual information and transmitting the same to the brain. This research is the first of its kind in finding out if marijuana users can develop any visual problems.

The researchers from the Pole Hospitalo-Universitaire de Psychiatrie du Grand Nancy in France attempted to look into the working of RGCs as they are the final and most integrated phase involving retinal processing and help the brain to form an image. The study was published online in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology in January 2016.

Does marijuana use impact retinal functioning?

The study authors informed that as marijuana affects central neurotransmission, researching about the RGCs in people who use marijuana on a constant basis is important. For research purposes, the scientists made use of a standard electrophysiological measurement called pattern electroretinography (PERG) that included averaging an increased number of responses, thus, making sure of the reproducibility of the findings obtained.

A total of 52 people were observed out of whom 28 used marijuana on a continuous basis, while the remaining 24 belonged to the control group. The researchers made the necessary adjustments for the number of years of education and alcohol use by the respondents. The authors noted, “This finding provides evidence for a delay of approximately 10 milliseconds in the transmission of action potentials evoked by the RGCs. As this signal is transmitted along the visual pathway via the optic nerve and lateral geniculate nucleus (a relay center in the thalamus for the visual pathway) to the visual cortex, this anomaly might account for altered vision in regular cannabis users.”

Why are these findings important?

Though the findings could not definitely prove that cannabis use can affect vision, the observations indicated that in marijuana users there was a temporary delay in relaying the information from the retina to the brain. The authors of the study stressed on the importance of the results as the observations may form the basis of future studies exploring the neurotoxic impact of consistent marijuana use on the central nervous system as a result of which it affects retinal processing.

Marijuana use has been much debated at both the state and federal level. While the argument on its positive and negative effects continues, it is important to have complete information about the side effects of the drug before completely legalizing its use. Those who are in favor of marijuana legalization hail the medicinal effects of the drug in treating pain, but the side effects cannot go unnoticed. Abuse of marijuana may push the people in the U.S. into a vicious maze of addiction and disorders, which may be difficult to recover from in the long run.

Treatment for drug addiction is imperative

It is necessary for the society, health authorities and the government to fight the epidemic of growing marijuana abuse and take active preventive measures in saving lives of many. If you know someone who is addicted to any substance, contact the 24/7 Drug Addiction Helpline for information on the finest inpatient drug abuse treatment centers You can seek help for drug addiction by calling us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-403-5607 or via online chat with our experts.

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