A study sheds some light on a possible “super power” for cannabis consumers: Night vision.
Nearly 20 years ago, it was anecdotally reported that fishermen in Jamaica experienced “an uncanny ability to see in the dark” after a ganja session. A few years later, reports out of Morocco showed that fishermen and mountain dwellers had similar experiences after smoking hashish.
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So researchers at McGill University in Montreal decided to get to the explore the science behind the phenomena.
According To The Guardian:
Now, another study provides hard evidence for the claim, revealing a cellular mechanism by which cannabis might improve night vision. The findings, published recently in the open access journal eLife, could eventually be applied to the treatment patients with degenerative eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.
The researchers applied a synthetic cannabinoid to the eye tissue of tadpoles of an African toad. The experiment found that the cannabinoid made retinal cells more sensitive to light, improving the speed at which the eye responded.
“We didn’t believe what we were seeing,” a study author told the Montreal Gazette. “The cannabinoids were increasing the excitability of cells in the eye that connects to the brain.”
The experiment followed the tadpoles, showing them dark moving dots, which the tadpoles avoid in nature. All of the tadpoles performed well in normally lit conditions, but the tadpoles given the cannabinoid performed much better than those that didn’t in dark conditions.
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What is the medicinal application for humans? Cannabis could be a viable treatment for retinitis pigmentosa and glaucoma.
Certain cannabinoids are known to have a neuroprotective effect on retinal cells, so improved night vision is not the only benefit. Patients with deteriorating eyesight — a common complaint among senior citizens — may derive benefit. Researchers also are optimistic that cannabis may actually slow down the progression eye disorders.