Under the Hood

Marijuana Side Effects: Regular Cannabis Use Affects Vision And Eye's Retina, Study Finds

A new study published in JAMA Opthamol found that regular cannabis use can delay how visual information is processed in the eye’s retina.

Researchers found that regular pot users experience a slight delay in the functioning of their retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). These cells work to process incoming visual information and are responsible for connecting the retina to the brain, according to an article in Medical XPress. However, researchers cautioned that the study was small, and they're still not sure if the delay is permanent or may recede over time when the user stops smoking pot. 

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These retinal cells are also partially responsible for transforming light into a series of electrical pulses, called action potentials, in the brain, CNN reported.

eyebrow Does regular cannabis use impact your vision? A new study shows what pot can do to your retina. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Researchers examined 52 participants, 28 of whom were regular marijuana users — meaning they used cannabis at least seven times a week. They found that cannabis smokers experienced a delayed response time in processing visual information when compared to the control group. The pot users "experienced a 10-millisecond delay in the speed with which their RGCs sent key signals to the brain via the optic nerve," Medical Xpress reported. 

Following the study, the research team suggested that smokers might be experiencing vision trouble without being consciously aware of it.

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"Such an anomaly could be imperceptible for cannabis users," Dr. Vincent Laprevote — lead author of the study and a physician at Pole Hospitalo-Universitaire de Psychiatrie du Grand Nancy in Laxou, France — told CNN. "However, it is important, since it could reflect the changes in the communication between neural cells implied by regular cannabis use."

Marijuana has long been known to have an impact on nervous system communications, according to Medical XPress.

Source: Schwitzer T, Schwan R, Albuisson E. Association Between Regular Cannabis Use and Ganglion Cell Dysfunction. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016.

See Also:

Marijuana Addiction Is Real; Cannabis Use Disorder Affects 6 Million Americans, Few Receive Mental Health Treatment

Health Benefits Of Medical Marijuana: 3 Major Ways Cannabis Helps Sick People Live Normal Lives

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