Declining Eyesight Improved with Red Light Therapy

Close up of an eye

A novel study by researchers at UCL found that three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week can vastly improve deteriorating eyesight.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, outlines how using longwave deep red light in the morning activated mitochondria cells in the human retina, repairing declining vision. Previous studies focused on higher energy levels and different times of the day to perform the therapy.

Overall, researchers discovered an average of 17 percent improvement in color contrast vision when exposed to three minutes of deep red light in the morning, which lasted at least a week. The same test, performed in the afternoon, showed no vision improvement.

Researchers' findings exhibit a breakthrough for eye health which could lead to more affordable home-based therapies. Millions of people suffer worldwide from naturally declining vision, which could be improved with just three minutes of red light therapy every morning.

Professor Glen Jeffery, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, lead author, said, "We demonstrate that one single exposure to longwave deep red light in the morning can significantly improve declining vision, which is a major health and wellbeing issue, affecting millions of people globally. This simple intervention applied at the population level would significantly impact on quality of life as people age and would likely result in reduced social costs that arise from problems associated with reduced vision."

Working with Planet Lighting UK, Jeffery aims to produce 670nm infrared eyewear at an affordable price; other LED devices made specifically for the same purpose can cost more than $20,000.

Jeffery said, "The technology is simple and very safe; the energy delivered by 670nm long wave light is not that much greater than that found in natural environmental light. Given its simplicity, I am confident an easy-to-use device can be made available at an affordable cost to the general public. In the near future, a once-a-week three-minute exposure to deep red light could be done while making a coffee, or on the commute listening to a podcast, and such a simple addition could transform eye care and vision around the world."

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