Brief Exposure To Near-Infrared Light Improves Vision
As we age, our eyesight naturally declines but a new study has found exposing our retinas to short bursts of deep red light can help arrest deteriorating vision.
Photo Insert: Just three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week, when delivered in the morning, can significantly improve declining eyesight.
The research shows just three minutes of exposure to 670-nanometer (long wavelength) deep red light in the morning can improve color contrast vision by nearly 20 percent, Rich Haridy reported for New Atlas.
Last year a team of researchers from University College London reported that briefly exposing the eye to a deep red 670-nanometer beam of light on a daily basis for just two weeks improved vision among elderly subjects. This new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, further investigated the phenomenon, looking at the effect of a single three-minute red light exposure.
Inside our cells are energy factories known as mitochondria, and these tiny factories produce a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the gas that fuels our cells. As we age, our mitochondrial functions gradually decline. Less ATP is produced, leading to decreased cellular functions.
Retinas age incredibly rapidly and some estimates indicate ATP production by photoreceptor cells in the eye can drop up to 70 percent over a human lifespan. Glen Jeffrey, the lead author of the new study, has been investigating ways to improve mitochondrial function in the retina.
Prior animal research revealed certain wavelengths of light can stimulate mitochondrial functions, including amplifying ATP production.
“Mitochondria have specific sensitivities to long-wavelength light influencing their performance: longer wavelengths spanning 650 to 900 nm improve mitochondrial performance to increase energy production,” Jeffery explains.
Twenty subjects were recruited and exposed to three minutes of 670-nm deep red light between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., and vision was measured using a "Chroma Test" designed to assess color contrast.
On average, the researchers detected a 17 percent improvement in "Chroma Test" scores several hours after the red light exposure. In older subjects, the improvement was greater than 20 percent and the benefit was found to last at least one week.