3 minutes of deep red light once a week can improve eyesight

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New research suggests that exposure to red light has benefits for a person’s eyesight. Luis Gustavo López / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • One study shows that brief weekly exposure to red light can improve deteriorating eyesight.
  • The light “switches on” mitochondria in the retina.
  • The finding has far-reaching implications, since mitochondria are the cells’ energy source.

A study by researchers at University College London in the UK found that brief exposure to the right light can improve deteriorating eyesight.

The study showed that 3-minute exposure to deep red light once a week in the morning can improve vision, which has deteriorated due to aging, for up to 1 week.

The researchers began their studies with flies and mice before working with the human participants in the study. Lead author Prof. Glen Jeffery told Medical news today, “It doesn’t matter what the animal or, to some extent, the cell, the light will act.”

The deep red light the researchers used had a specific hue with a wavelength of 670 nanometers.

The study appears in the journal Scientific reports.

Prof. Jeffery said the improvements in eyesight that the study found resulted from the fact that “the lights we use affect the mitochondria”. He explained their meaning:

“These are highly conserved energy sources in cells – it’s the cells’ batteries. The light increases the charge on the mitochondria and enables them to increase their energy output, which has decreased with age or illness. “

The chemical source of this energy is Adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Eyesight decreases with age 40 years and is associated with a 70% Reduction in ATP, which means cells lack the energy to function properly.

According to Prof. Jeffery, mitochondria in the eye in particular offer some unique research advantages:

“The great thing about the retina is that it has more mitochondria than any other organ because it uses so much energy. Plus, you have easy optical access – you can shine the light directly on the mitochondria in the retina, which you can’t with mitochondria in the liver or kidney. On top of that, the retina ages faster than any other organ and you can simply test its function by asking people what they see and you have a perfect target for red light therapy. “

The small study cohort of women and men ranged in age from 34 to 70 years. Researchers measured the participants’ eyesight improvement by rating their color contrast vision or ability to distinguish between colors. All participants had normal color contrast vision at the start of the study.

Some people were exposed to deep red light for 3 minutes in the morning and others in the afternoon. The red light was about a camera aperture brighter or about twice as bright as the overall lighting in the test area.

The participants’ color contrast vision was tested 3 hours after red light exposure and again 1 week later.

The color-contrast vision of participants exposed to red light in the morning improved by an average of 17%.

The researchers found that application of light must be in the morning to have any effect.

They found no improvement in color contrast vision in the participants who were exposed to light in the afternoon.

One likely reason is that the mitochondria follow the body’s circadian rhythm, and as Prof. Jeffery said of them, “They’re probably doing other things in the afternoon.”

Another possibility has to do with the energy demand, which is unique to the early day. “Maybe it’s about getting up in the morning and being ready to do things,” speculated Prof. Jeffery. “This consumes energy that has to be replaced. No matter what you do, [mitochondria] do not answer the rest of the day or at night. “

The study also found that 3 minutes is the optimal length of time for exposure and that vision improvement lasts for up to 1 week.

Three minutes is as effective as a 45 minute exposure, “but use” [it] for hours and it doesn’t work, ”said Prof. Jeffery.

According to Prof. Jeffery, the implications of the study go beyond improving eyesight:

“Mitochondria determine so many aspects of our lives and we need a way to improve their health, especially as we age. The use of red light is now used in a large number of laboratories and also in clinical studies. It will likely give us a very easy and economical way to do this with broad applicability. “

As an example, he noticed that red light was shown to be neuroprotective in a monkey model of Parkinson’s disease.

“To give a broader context,” said Prof. Jeffery, “we are too” work on beesbecause of some of the extremely important insecticides that Neonicotinoids, work by damaging mitochondria and killing bees. We used almost identical technologies to protect them. “

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