Red Light Therapy May Help Vision

Red Light Therapy May Help Vision

Yvonne Hedeker
3 minute read

Research and case studies have shown that red light may help vision. Shining certain wavelengths of red and near-infrared light into eyes can promote healing for a variety of retinal diseases like macular degeneration, as well as other issues like bright light sensitivity, poor night vision and other conditions resulting in declining eyesight. One human study with AMD (age related macular degeneration) patients showed that improvements from red light therapy were maintained 3-36 months after treatment. Red light therapy appeared to also help some patients with bleeding, edema, scotoma, dyschromatopsia, and metamorphopsia.

A 2017 human pilot study at the University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology exposed participants to red light with a 670 nanometer wavelength. 670nm red is toward the long end of the visible spectrum. Participants spent a few minutes each day looking directly into the red lights. 

The study showed a 14% improvement in the ability to see colors, or cone color contrast sensitivity and improvements with the ability to see in low light.  The most significant changes were seen with participants 40 and older. For those ages, cone color contrast sensitivity rose by 20%.

Adults over the age of 40 are at the highest risk for eye diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, though they can occur in young people as well. These conditions are treatable at the beginning stages of disease.

Our cells' mitochondria influence the pace of aging as they provide the energy cellular function in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP production declines with age. Scientists call this the mitochondrial theory of aging, in that humans and animals age as damage accumulates in mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA.

The researchers at University College London wanted to stimulate retina mitochondria with the goal of stopping, preventing, perhaps reversing vision loss. Mitochondrial density is greatest in photoreceptors, particularly in cones, which require high energy and which mediate color vision. That's why the retina ages faster than any other organ, with a 70% reduction in ATP over a lifetime and a significant decline in photoreceptor function. According to Dr. Glen Jeffery, the lead author of the study, The science works because light stimulates the health of mitochondria, which are like batteries in our cells."

Mitochondria have specific light absorbance characteristics that influence their function. Longer wavelengths from 650 to 1,000nm stimulate complex mitochondrial activity, cell membrane potential, and ATP production. The Auragen Light and Sound System delivers significant amounts of both Red and Near-Infrared light in the range of wavelengths that have been shown in research to boost mitochondrial function. With eyes closed users can still receive plenty of light as human eyelids are very thin and contain a lot of capillaries, they are permeable to photons and allow plenty of healthy wavelengths to reach the retina and beyond into the brain.

Since mitochondria are implicated in a broad range of diseases, findings like these may lead to new treatments for diseases like Parkinson's and diabetes.

 

Neurobiology of Aging, Volume 52, April 2017, Pages 66-70: Aging retinal function is improved by near infrared light (670 nm) that is associated with corrected mitochondrial decline

 

Journals Of Gerontology, Volume 75 September 2020 : Optically Improved Mitochondrial Function Redeems Aged Human Visual Decline

 

NCBI & NIH: Aging retinal function is improved by near infrared light (670 nm) that is associated with corrected mitochondrial decline

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