Envision this, pun intended, you have lived a good life, having dodged any serious ailments, but then you notice that your eyes don’t work quite as well as they used to. It is getting harder to read most things near or far and recognizing faces becomes next to impossible. Before you assume that it’s normal, think again. Macular degeneration may be at work here as it is a common eye disorder usually affecting older adults 50 and up. It is the highest cause of vision loss in the U.S., approximately 10 million Americans are affected by this medical condition. We will discuss what that means and how CBD oil may come to the rescue again.
Let’s break down the layers of the eye first.
The retina is the inner layer of the eye, it contains nerves that help you see. The layer behind the retina is the choroid. The choroid contains the blood supply to all three layers of the eye. The central part of the retina surrounding the optic disk is called the macula. The macula is responsible for the clear, direct line of sight vision.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration that is age related (AMD) usually starts with getting yellow deposits in the macula called drusen. Many people that develop this condition had good vision most of their lives.
First, we’ll separate macular degeneration into the two types.
There is the dry form (nonexudative) and the wet form (exudative or neovascular).
The dry form causes blurred or reduced central vision. Often, it develops in one eye and then the other, eventually affecting your ability to see well. It affects the central part of the eye so imagine a landscape with a bear smack dab in the middle of the shot. You can see the outer edges of the picture, but the bear may be blurred out. With the dry form of macular degeneration, you will not go completely blind. You will still have your peripheral vision.
Fortunately, the dry form usually develops slowly and painlessly. Some of the possible symptoms would be distorted vision where straight lines seem wavy and grids appear blank, difficulty reading, difficulty changing lighting environments (i.e. Entering a dark restaurant from a sunny sidewalk), colors seeming less bright or intense than they used to be, and difficulty recognizing people.
From the dry form of macular degeneration, you may develop the wet form, where the blood vessels start to grow abnormally under the retina and start to leak blood and protein.
The wet type is a much more dramatic change in your vision, not as gradual as the dry form. The leakage of blood and protein along with the scarring in the area causes irreversible damage to the photoreceptors. The retina can become detached. If left untreated, there will be permanent and rapid vision loss.
Symptoms of wet AMD include changes in colors, hemorrhages in the eye, atrophy, rapid vision loss in acuity (i.e. 20/20 to 20/80 in a short period of time), central scotomas (i.e. Shadows, missing areas of vision), distortion (much like the dry variety).
Although you may not go totally blind, only a small percentage of people do, it will affect a large percentage of what you see. The surprising detail about this condition is that even though the macula makes up only about 2% of the retina, the remaining 98% of the peripheral is unaffected. To make it even more interesting, although this is the case, nearly half or the visual cortex is used to process macular information. So essentially, you are very close to being nearly blind.
Without central vision, you cannot read, drive, or recognize faces. This visual loss experienced by people with macular degeneration has devastating consequences.
How is macular degeneration managed?
There are treatments available that may help slow the progression of the disease. Some medications are used to stop new blood vessels from growing. These medications are usually used to treat wet AMD. Bevacizumab, ranibizumab, and aflibercept are medicines that are directly injected into the eye. They help shrink the blood vessels.
But, like most medicines, they carry a lot of risks. Add to that the fact that you need to put a needle to your eye, and it is a scary proposition. Risks include conjunctival hemorrhage, eye inflammation eye pressure, eye pain, floaters, and infection. Also, risk of stroke is high on that list.
Lower risk treatments
These treatments were not available until relatively recently. This includes laser surgery or photocoagulation therapy, which helps destroy leaky blood vessels. Unfortunately using this method may damage healthy tissue also, which could lead to further loss of vision. Not everyone can use this surgery, only a small percentage of people can be approved for this. On top of that, after the surgery, new blood vessels are highly likely to develop. Laser surgery is not very effective.
Photodynamic therapy. IT is a drug that gets injected into your arm and travels throughout the body. A special light, shone in the patients’ eye, activates the drug verteporfin. Verteporfin destroys the new blood vessels and slows the rate of degenerating vision. After this treatment, you cannot expose yourself to direct sunlight or even indoor light that is too bright for five days afterward.
These highly risky procedures do not stop vision loss and are not reliable for long term uses.
The less invasive, more natural solutions
Diet changes and healthy lifestyles should be something that everyone adopts, regardless of developed conditions. If you adopt some basic daily habits of diet and exercise, you can eliminate a lot of complications that may arise in your health.
Rich antioxidant food and vitamins will greatly reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration. Along with omega-3 fatty foods such as walnuts and fish.
Don’t smoke tobacco and maintain a healthy weight along with exercise.
Now, if you follow all these rules but have developed macular degeneration, then let us examine CBD oil.
Using CBD topically or even sublingually may be useful. Although there is not much research in this specific area regarding AMD, there are studies that have been shown to slow down or block the causes of macular degeneration.
The properties of CBD, in a study out of Spain in 2004 relating to brain tumours, showed the slowing down of abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye brought on by VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor.
In 2008, there was another study showing that CBD can intercept “diabetes- and endotoxin-induced retinal damage,” which includes macular degeneration.
On top of this, cytokines, the proteins responsible for inflammation, thickening of the retinal, macular degeneration, had been shown to be reduced when CBD oil was used.