Red Light Therapy for Eye Health

Red Light Therapy for EYES

For the past years, red light therapy has proven to be effective in treating several medical conditions. These claims are backed up by studies and clinical trials, ensuring the safety and efficacy of this regimen. Red light therapy also aids in handling the most sensitive and most precious part of your body, your eyes. 

How Does Red Light Therapy Help Your Eyes?

Red light therapy is a safe, natural, and non-invasive treatment for many medical conditions and disorders, including your eyes. Unlike other light sources, red light therapy promotes proper function with no known severe side effects. Many studies have also proven how red light therapy works for eye health. 

However, these clinical studies don’t mean you should stare at a bright red light for an extended period. Doing such a deed won’t cause permanent damage, but may irritate your eyes. 

Is red light therapy safe for the eyes? Let’s learn more about red light therapy, how it treats multiple eye conditions, and what precautions we should consider when engaging in this regimen at home.  

Red Light Therapy for Preventing Vision Loss

Red light therapy works well in preventing vision loss. Experts consider red light (630-660nm) and near-infrared light (810-850nm) as the most therapeutic wavelengths with wide-reaching applications. Red light stimulates the mitochondria of your cells to generate more ATP. 

It’s been proven that age-related macular degeneration has no cure, and it occurs as the eyes age and the core ATP production in them decreases. When ATP production is reduced, the declining ocular cells may lead to inflammation and cause cell degeneration. As a result, there will be vision problems that may affect a person’s daily living [1].

Another beneficial effect of red light therapy is its ability to reduce eye inflammation. There are instances when a person sustains an eye injury and ends up suffering from ocular inflammation. Red light therapy aids in reducing the inflammatory process and removing oxidative stress that is responsible for the possible vision loss in ocular inflammation [2].

Red Light Therapy as a Treatment for Declining Eyesight

A long-term study also concluded that red light therapy is an excellent treatment for declining eyesight. In a study, 33 respondents underwent consistent red light therapy for five years. Constant monitoring was observed, and the results showed a significant decrease in edema or swelling, a significant increase in visual acuity, and no adverse side effects [3].

Red Light Therapy for Treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa

The most common cause of inherited blindness is a degenerative genetic disorder called retinitis pigmentosa. This disorder breaks down the retina cells, often resulting in night blindness and loss of peripheral vision. Most degenerative conditions in the eyes involve oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, which makes these two factors impactful in maintaining your eyes’ health and vision.

To support red light therapy’s efficacy in treating retinitis pigmentosa, researchers conducted a study in 2012 involving rodents. The same researchers used red and infrared to treat the rodents’ eyes. The results were promising and revealed a stimulated mitochondrial functioning, cell death prevention, and reduced oxidative stress [4].

Since then, the researchers conclude that red light therapy works great in treating retinitis pigmentosa and in preventing the disorder from worsening over time. 

Infrared Light Treatment for Cataracts

A cataract is the leading cause of blindness and impaired vision. Traditionally, cataracts are commonly treated by removing the damaged lens and replacing it with a synthetic one. However, infrared light treatment for cataracts has proven a more non-invasive and less costly way to cure it. 

Infrared light treatment for cataracts involves bleaching the yellow lens using infrared light. Researchers used an extremely fast-pulsed infrared laser to do this [5]. 

The study was headed by an ophthalmologist at Glostrup Hospital of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. It revealed that infrared light treatment for cataracts can replace invasive and costly surgical treatments.

Red Light Therapy for Glaucoma Treatment

Glaucoma is a group of age-related eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. The damage in the optic nerve often results in a loss of vision over time. Its occurrence increases as a person ages. Unlike other medical conditions, glaucoma has no cure. It’s equivalent to having Diabetes Mellitus. There’s no cure, and the only thing you can do is manage the symptoms.

In glaucoma, we must focus on the possible vision loss since it’s a life-threatening risk. Fortunately, red light therapy exists. Glaucoma and light therapy complement one another. 

A 2017 study has once proven that red light therapy can help reduce glaucoma chances by protecting the cornea. In this study, the red light therapy treatments reduced corneal cell damage and promoted growth instead. The cells’ survival chances are increased, and glaucoma-related vision loss was discarded [6].

Red Light Therapy for Eye Floaters

Eye floaters appear as small spots that affect your vision. They are disturbing and may stand out when you look at something bright. The protein fibers that make up your vitreous may shrink and clump together as you age. As a result, they become floaters, and they cast a shadow on your retina. 

Most of them don’t cause life-threatening risks, but if you notice flash changes in your eyes, it can be severe. Red light therapy works for eye floaters by improving ATP production and stimulating cellular energy molecules [7].

Efficacy of Low-Level Red Light Therapy in Myopia Control

The medical term for nearsightedness is myopia. It mostly occurs as a genetic disorder, but the modern changes in lifestyle have brought about changes. Nowadays, children are more prone to having myopia because most of them spend long hours playing video games than outdoors. 

Fortunately, myopia can be controlled using a non-invasive regimen known as red light therapy. To establish the efficacy of low-level red light therapy in myopia control, researchers conducted a study. The same study revealed that red light therapy improves choroidal metabolic rate and scleral hypoxia, slowing down myopia’s progression a result [8].

Healing Eye Injuries with Red Light Therapy

Our eyes are among the most vulnerable parts of our body. A simple irritation can lead to a more severe condition. Since accidents and injuries are inevitable, it’s best to be informed about other alternatives to heal eye injuries.

Red light therapy plays a crucial role in healing eye injuries such as corneal burns and foreign body injuries.

For corneal burns, the pain is excruciating. Also, it’s a challenge for them to heal. They don’t heal over time, and they require patience to heal. 

There’s a study in 2016 where 50 rabbits with corneal burns were examined and treated with red light therapy. The results were promising, showing a lower loss of keratocytes (repair cells) and reducing inflammation [9].

Having foreign bodies stuck in your cornea is another problematic case to handle naturally. These foreign objects can be the sharp point of your pencil, a pebble, a plastic, a glass, or even grains of sand.

To establish safety and efficacy for red light therapy in healing foreign body eye injuries, researchers conducted a study in 40 respondents with corneal foreign body condition. The same study revealed that red light therapy hastens healing in said situations for about 42% [10].

The healing effects of red light therapy are also gradually improving over time. Years from now, there will be more advancements, and we will all benefit from them. 

Summary

Several clinical trials and studies clearly show that red light therapy has great potential in treating different eye conditions. Red light therapy can improve visual acuity, can stimulate ATP production, and promote healing. 

However, we must remember that red light therapy is not the main cure. Also, this regimen requires safety precautions and proper handling of red light therapy devices to achieve the best results. For other concerns, you may ask your ophthalmologist before proceeding with the treatment. 


References:

  1. Kokkinopoulos I et al. Age-related Retinal Inflammation is Reduced by 670 nm Light via Increased Mitochondrial Membrane Potential. 2012 May 16 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22595370/
  2. Calaza KC et al. Mitochondrial Decline Precedes Phenotype Development in the Complement Factor H Mouse Model of Retinal Degeneration But Can Be Corrected By Near-Infrared Light. 2015 June 15 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26149919/
  3. Koev K et al. Five Year Follow-up of Low-level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in Patients with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). 2018 – https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/992/1/012061/pdf
  4. Gopalakrishnan S. Photobiomodulation in Inherited Retinal Degeneration. 2012 August 01 – https://dc.uwm.edu/etd/4/
  5. Kessel L et al. Non-Invasive Bleaching of the Human Lens by Femtosecond Laser Photolysis. 2010 March 16 – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0009711
  6. Alvarez CN et al. Near-Infrared Light Attenuates Corneal Endothelial Cell Dysfunction in Situ and in Vitro. 2017 August – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28619506/
  7. Hamblin MR. Mechanisms of Low-level Light Therapy. – http://photobiology.info/Hamblin.html
  8. Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University. Efficacy of Repeated Low-level Red Light Therapy in Myopia Control. 2019 August 19 – https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04073238
  9. Kanavi MR et al. Short-term Effects of Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Field and Pulsed Low-level Therapy on Rabbit Model of Corneal Alkali Burn. 2016 April – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26795389/
  10. Koev K, Avramov L, Borisova E. He-Ne Low-level Laser Therapeutic Applications for Treatment of Corneal Trauma. 2011 January 17 – https://www.spiedigitallibrary.org/conference-proceedings-of-spie/7747/1/He-Ne-low-level-laser-therapeutic-applications-for-treatment-of/10.1117/12.883404.short?SSO=1

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