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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9364091, 10 pages
Review Article

The Endocannabinoid System as a Therapeutic Target in Glaucoma

1Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4R2
2Department of Medical Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4R2
3Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4R2

Received 10 July 2015; Accepted 10 November 2015

Academic Editor: Maurice Ptito

Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth A. Cairns et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Glaucoma is an irreversible blinding eye disease which produces progressive retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss. Intraocular pressure (IOP) is currently the only modifiable risk factor, and lowering IOP results in reduced risk of progression of the disorder. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has attracted considerable attention as a potential target for the treatment of glaucoma, largely due to the observed IOP lowering effects seen after administration of exogenous cannabinoids. However, recent evidence has suggested that modulation of the ECS may also be neuroprotective. This paper will review the use of cannabinoids in glaucoma, presenting pertinent information regarding the pathophysiology of glaucoma and how alterations in cannabinoid signalling may contribute to glaucoma pathology. Additionally, the mechanisms and potential for the use of cannabinoids and other novel agents that target the endocannabinoid system in the treatment of glaucoma will be discussed.