With marijuana’s growing popularity—and legality—glaucoma patients are now faced with conflicting opinions on marijuana’s role in glaucoma therapy, according to new research.

A cross-sectional study from October 2018 to March 2019 investigated differing perceptions among glaucoma specialists, medical marijuana dispensaries and glaucoma patients in states with legalized marijuana. Dispensaries were surveyed with a mystery call approach and questioned about whether marijuana was recommended as safe and effective for glaucoma. Self-administered surveys were distributed to doctors and patients.

Of the 203 medical marijuana dispensaries successfully contacted, 51% (103) recommended marijuana for glaucoma treatment. The other 49% said they were unsure or deferred making a recommendation.

In a second arm of the study, 290 members of the American Glaucoma Society were asked whether they recommended marijuana for glaucoma treatment; just 7.6% reported they had, whereas the other 86.4% said they had done so infrequently.

Among the third group, comprised of 231 glaucoma patient respondents, about 60% said they’d heard of using marijuana for glaucoma, but only 2.6% had actually used it as a treatment.

With few glaucoma specialists recommending marijuana, and even fewer patients using it as therapy, while half of marijuana dispensaries endorse its use, public confusion seems likely. “As legal access and public acceptance of marijuana escalates, physicians should be aware of these perceptions when educating patients,” the researchers noted.

Weldy E, Stanley J, Koduri V, et al. Perceptions of marijuana use for glaucoma from patients, cannabis retailers, and glaucoma specialists. Ophthalmology. July 2, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].