As we get older, it is not uncommon for our eyes to weaken, especially when it comes to identifying different colors. To try to fix this problem, researchers in the UK conducted a study on the use of red light as therapy. They found that staring at a red light for three minutes once a week could help improve eyesight.
Last year, the same researchers at University College London published the results of a small study that looked at the use of red light as therapy in humans. During the study, they had healthy volunteers stare at a red light with their dominant eye for 3 minutes. This little session was done every day and the process lasted two weeks. Later tests showed that people who were over the age of 40 had made progress in detecting contrast between colors.
For this new study, the researchers wanted to test the limits of their therapy using red light.
The role of mitochondria
In cells, mitochondria are responsible for producing energy. But in the retina, they degrade more quickly than in other parts of the body as a person ages. This is what causes the gradual loss of the ability to distinguish colors.
Lead author Glen Jeffery explains that mitochondria can absorb certain forms of light such as deep red. Thanks to this, they can be recharged and the cells can regain their vitality. This method works very well on the retina since it contains very many mitochondria. Researchers have used this technique to improve vision.
The new therapy and its results
In the new study, scientists tested the therapy on 24 people between the ages of 34 and 70, all of whom had healthy eyesight. The therapy consisted of using deep red light with a wavelength of 670 nanometers on them, but this time only once a week. Most participants received it in the morning, but in a later experiment other people received it in the afternoon, and other participants also acted as a control group.
The participants’ way of distinguishing colors was then tested a week later. The results showed a 17% improvement in color vision for the participants who received the treatment in the morning. On the other hand, there was no improvement for those who received their dose of red light in the afternoon. This could be explained by the fact that the mitochondria react differently to light during the day.
The researchers said the results of the new study confirmed the results of their previous work and could make the treatment even more convenient. This is because they now know that a three minute weekly exposure to deep red light is sufficient to improve vision.
However, given the limited number of volunteers who participated in the experiment, larger trials will be necessary to confirm the results obtained. In addition, it appears that the participants reacted in very different ways to the therapy. Even some people of the same age did not have the same results, suggesting that there are unique factors that could predict the effectiveness of treatment for each person.