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Regular Cannabis Use May Affect Retinal Ganglion Cell Function

May disrupt, delay signal transmitted along the visual pathway via the optic nerve

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FRIDAY, Dec. 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Regular cannabis users appear to experience a slight delay in their retinal ganglion cell (RGC) signaling, according to a study published online Dec. 8 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The finding stems from preliminary research involving 52 participants, 28 of whom were regular cannabis users, defined as cannabis use at least seven times a week. The researchers conducted neural signaling tests to compare RGC function between the regular cannabis smokers and nonsmokers.

The tests determined that regular cannabis users experienced a 10-millisecond delay in the speed with which their RGCs sent key signals to the brain via the optic nerve.

"The conclusion that cannabis causes RGC dysfunction cannot be made with any degree of certainty based on the evidence provided in the current study," write the authors of an accompanying editorial. "This question should be reexamined with some urgency, using a degree of scientific rigor, which may be challenging in jurisdictions where cannabis consumption is illegal."

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