• Rhianna Jiang

Red Light as a Treatment for Declining Eyesight


We all know our eyesight declines as we grow older, but what if there was a method to slow down the pace of deterioration?


Last December, a study published in Scientific Reports by researchers from University College London was conducted to determine the effects of single three-minute exposure to long-wave deep red light, after a previous study of daily three-minute exposure with higher energy levels. The team also compared exposure at different times of the day, after finding another study on how mitochondria shift workloads throughout the day.

Using an LED device to administer the light, the researchers tested 20 participants of different sexes and ages ranging from 37-70. On average, they found that when exposed to three minutes of 670 nanometre deep red light between 8-9 am, participants’ colour contrast vision improved by an average of 17%. The effects of the treatment lasted for a week. When exposed between 12-1 pm however, there was no improvement in vision, despite measures to ensure the effects of the previous test had worn off.


So how does this work? At around 40 years old, a person’s eyesight naturally worsens; the retina ages faster than other organs. An important factor of this is the decline of energy-producing mitochondria in its cells — resulting in a lack of energy for photoreceptor function. Exposure to the red light ‘recharges’ the mitochondria in the retina, thereby improving function and vision.


Although this data has yet to be backed up by a large-scale clinical trial, it is still a very promising breakthrough in eye health — possibly leading to many simple, affordable and effective at-home treatments for the millions of people in the world with declining vision. Quality of life for the elderly is sure to be ameliorated and problems caused by ageing eyes will be reduced.


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