Studies have found that transient exposure to near-infrared light can improve deteriorating vision
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last year, a research team at University College London (UCL) reported that briefly exposing the eyes to a beam of 670 nm deep red light every day can improve the eyesight of elderly subjects in only two weeks. The new study, published in the journal Science report, further investigated this phenomenon and studied the effect of a three minute red light irradiation
all our cells have energy factories called mitochondria. These tiny factories produce a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to provide “fuel” for our cells
as we grow older, our mitochondrial function gradually decreases. The production of ATP decreased, resulting in the decline of cell function. The rate of retinal aging is incredible. Some estimates show that ATP produced by photoreceptor cells in the eye can be reduced by 70% in a person’s life
Glen Jeffrey, the lead author of this new study, has been studying how to improve mitochondrial function in the retina. Previous animal studies have shown that certain wavelengths of light can stimulate mitochondrial function, including amplifying ATP production
“mitochondria are particularly sensitive to long wavelength light that affects their performance: longer wavelengths across 650 to 900 nm can improve the performance of mitochondria to increase energy production,” Jeffery explained
the researchers recruited 20 subjects who were exposed to 670 nm deep red light for 3 minutes between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and used a “chromaticity test” to evaluate color contrast to measure vision
on average, the researchers found that after several hours of red light exposure, the score of “chromaticity test” increased by 17%. In older subjects, the improvement was more than 20%, and this benefit was found to last for at least one week
interestingly, the researchers conducted the same experiment on a smaller cohort a few months later, but irradiated it early in the afternoon. No improvement was found, suggesting that the circadian cycle plays an important role in the response of mitochondria to dark red light
Jeffery points out: “Once a week, use a simple LED device to recharge the energy system in retinal cells, just like recharging the battery. Morning irradiation is absolutely the key to improving vision loss: as we saw in flies before, the working mode of mitochondria is constantly changing, and there is no same response to afternoon light — this study The study confirmed this. ”
the researchers cautiously pointed out that there was great variability in visual improvement among the individuals in the study. The researchers pointed out that there are some unknown variables that may affect the success of this treatment, so further research on a larger cohort is needed to better determine who is the most effective and how to best provide light exposure.
However, Jeffery is optimistic that once the therapy is improved, it will become a cheap and simple method to improve the vision of the elderly. The technology is safe and the intervention is easy, which makes it a promising way to promote age-related vision decline.
Jeffery concludes: “In view of its simplicity, I believe that an easy-to-use device can be provided to everyone at a price affordable to the public. In the near future, three minutes of deep red light irradiation once a week can be carried out while making coffee or listening to podcasts during commuting. Such a simple supplement can change eye care and vision all over the world.”
the new study is published in the journal scientific report