In the 1990s, Jamaican research pioneers Dr. Albert Lockhart and Professor Manley West began the development of a substance they came to call Canasol, a marijuana-based medicine that works to reduce intraocular pressure without the adverse side-effects imposed by other treatments. This breakthrough drug was the first glaucoma medication in the Caribbean to be developed at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
Dr. Albert Lockhart, an ophthalmologist, and University of the West Indies pharmacology professor Manley West joined forces to study the medicinal effects of marijuana. West, who was born in Kensington in Portland, first became interested in the medicinal properties of the drug when he saw fishermen in Manchester smoking ganja to enhance their ability to see fish at night. He asked Jamaica’s police commissioner for permission to study the drug and then explored different extracts from the plant to determine their beneficial properties. Along with the eye specialist Dr. Lockhart, the duo tested the drug on human beings after extensive experimentation on dogs and discovered how it could be used to successfully treat glaucoma patients.
Some of the benefits of the marijuana-based glaucoma treatment include the medicinal substance’s ability to reduce pressure within the eye that damages the optic nerve. It also reduces pain in cases where patients experience discomfort from glaucoma, and its anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce the progression of the disease in some cases. In short, the use of cannabis-based treatment has been shown to improve patient outcomes in several types of glaucoma and their symptoms.
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