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Marijuana Use and Self-reported Quality of Eyesight

Akano, Obinna F.*

Optometry and Vision Science: May 2017 - Volume 94 - Issue 5 - p 630–633
doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001069

Purpose There is increasing use of marijuana among young adults and more states in the United States are legalizing medical marijuana use. A number of studies have revealed both the beneficial and harmful effects of marijuana to the human system. Despite some beneficial effects, studies have shown marijuana to have a lot of deleterious effects on the visual system, which subsequently reduces the quality of eyesight. The aim of this study was to investigate if heavy marijuana smoking is associated with a poor quality of eyesight compared with light/no use of marijuana.

Methods The National Longitudinal Survey of Youths (NLSY79), a nationally representative sample of 12,686 young men and women surveyed in 1979 to 2010 was used for this study. The quality of eyesight of 1304 heavy marijuana users was compared with 1304 respondents with light or no marijuana use. The t test, multivariate and weighted logistic regression were used in the data analysis.

Results There was no statistically significant difference in the self-reported quality of eyesight among heavy marijuana smokers compared with youths who never used marijuana or are light marijuana users. Among heavy marijuana smokers, males and high school graduates have decreased odds of reporting a poor quality of eyesight, whereas blacks have increased odds of reporting a poor quality of eyesight.

Conclusions The self-reported quality of eyesight among marijuana users can aid clinicians and other health practitioners facilitate the development of sex-, racial/ethnic–, and educational level–informed prevention and early intervention programs and also help characterize public opinions regarding cannabis, which are particularly relevant given the ongoing debate concerning the medicalization and legalization of cannabis in the United States.

Reporting quality of eyesight in marijuana use.One thousand three hundred four heavy marijuana users compared with an equal number of light or no users matched to similar sociodemographic characteristics reported no significant difference in self-reported quality of eyesight. Given the ongoing debate on medicalization and legalization of marijuana, the identified correlates of self-reported quality of eyesight (males, high school graduates, and blacks) from this study will be helpful in targeting populations that would benefit from educational and intervention programs aimed at preventing marijuana abuse and its deleterious effect on vision and health.


School of Public Health, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York.

Obinna F. Akano, School of Public Health SUNY Downstate, Medical Center, Brooklyn 450 Clarkson Ave, Box 43 Brooklyn, NY 11203, e-mail:

© 2017 American Academy of Optometry