Researchers recently published findings from a study they carried out showing that red light therapy may offer an inexpensive means of improving vision. As exciting as that might sound for people who are having vision problems, it is not yet time to start using this treatment on your own.
Vision problems are among the signs people experience as they grow older. Millions of people age 40 years or older in the United States suffer from reduced vision.
A major reason for decreases in the quality of eyesight is the aging of the mitochondria, according to scientists. This organelle sees to energy (ATP) production in cells. A drop in its function can bring about the decline of the eyes’ retinal cells.
In the new study, a research team at the University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology used red light to improve the performance of mitochondria, leading to improved vision in older subjects.
What is Red Light?
Red light is a type of light that is near-infrared in classification. The main difference between red light and infrared light is that you can see only the former with your eyes. While you can’t see infrared, your body feels it as heat.
There are several colors in the visible light spectrum – similar to those of the rainbow. Experts say that the energy wavelengths of these colors determine our ability to see them with our eyes.
In the visible light spectrum, red possesses the longest wavelength while ultraviolet light exhibits the shortest wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the more energy a light carries. Ultraviolet light, such as that from the sun, carries a lot of energy.
The Red Light Study
In the UK study, researchers were interested in finding an easier way of correcting vision impairment. They had noticed improvements in lab animals from using “short, long-wave light flashes.” This led them to try similar light in humans.
The team recruited 24 individuals having no eye defects and aged 28 to 72 years. After testing the sensitivity of the cones and rods in the eyes of these subjects, researchers gave each one a small flashlight emitting 670-nanometer deep red LED light. The participants were asked to stare at the light for three minutes a day.
After two weeks of red light therapy, significant improvements were noticed in the eyesight of individuals older than 40 years. The changes were especially notable in the blue region of the color spectrum that is most affected by aging.
Don’t Use It Yet
The findings from this research are quite exciting. They promise a more convenient and affordable way of treating decreased vision at home.
However, it is important to state that it is not yet time to try using your own red light to improve your vision. You must note that this was only a pilot study. All technical details are not yet covered.
LED lights are used in many devices these days. They are thought to be more environmentally friendly, cheaper, and longer-lasting. Many people also think of them as being “cool.”
But many experts have also warned about the dangers of LED lights. These caveats mostly apply to blue light that is popularly used in screen-devices and bulbs. Long-term exposure to this light has been shown in research to damage cells in the retina, with fear of it possibly resulting in blindness.
It appears there’s less concern of eye damage with red light, but this treatment is yet to be approved. You will do well to wait until it has approval before using it.