Light therapy is the application or manipulation of light in the treatment, management, or prevention of common health conditions. Light therapy is considered a non-pharmacological (drug-free) treatment and typically involves recreating more natural lighting conditions than are encountered in the modern lighting environments. In natural conditions, our skin and retinas would receive bright, full spectrum light from the sun in the morning and afternoon. For this reason, a natural, healthy lighting schedule will include higher levels of blue light in the morning (from either sunlight or a bright light therapy lamp), and low levels of blue light in the evening (achieved by blocking blue light with amber lenses or switching to an amber sleep lamp). Light therapy, in it various forms, has been proven efficacious in the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), depression, Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, Insomnia, Shift Work Disorder, migraines, acne, and psoriasis.
Bright Light Therapy and Dawn Simulators
The most common form of light therapy is the use of bright white or blue light in the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In fact, light therapy is widely considered the first-line of treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Bright light therapy lamps have also been tested, with some success, in the management of other mood disorders such as general anxiety disorder and chronic depression. For SAD, symptom remission usually begins within 4 days of phototherapy, and depressive symptoms are completely alleviated after one week of light therapy. A 2006 study by the American Journal of Psychiatry compared the efficacy of SAD phototherapy with treatment of the antidepressant Fluoxetine, finding that they were equally effective (63%), though the light therapy group reported fewer side effects (in addition to treating SAD, Fluoxetine caused agitation, sleep disturbance, and palpitations). A meta-analysis of 39 independent SAD Phototherapy studies found bright light (between 6000 lux and 10,000 lux) to be the most effective at alleviating typical Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms (Lee). Read SAD lights reviews here.
SAD lights and dawn simulator lamps are also used to treat Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, Shift Work disorder, and other kinds of circadian disorders. Morning bright light is considered an
important aspect of sleep hygiene, which contributes to the management of a host of sleep disorders, including chronic insomnia. One recent study found dawn simulators to be equally effective (43%) as SAD lamps at treating Seasonal Effective Disorder. Read Dawn simulators Reviews here.
Light therapy is also an FDA-approved natural treatment for numerous skin disorders, including psoriasis and acne. In 2000, the British Association of Dermatologists published a meta-analysis of the available research on Acne Phototherapy. The study concluded that the UV light from sunlight demonstrated a 70% improvement in moderate acne; however, due to the damaging effects of UV radiation, the authors recommended the milder treatment of blue or red light, which has shown similarly positive effects (50-60% improvement) with fewer risks. In patient trials, blue light was most effective at destroying the P. acnes bacteria near the surface of the skin, while red light was more effective at reducing inflammation. Combinations of red and blue visible light proved most effective. Unlike control patients, who were given Benzoyl Peroxide, patients treated with phototherapy did not report dry, itchy skin or other side effects. Learn more about Acne Phototherapy Devices Here.
In 1982, the FDA approved PUVA (phototherapy with UVA light) for the treatment of psoriasis. PUVA is the use of UVA (ultraviolet light) for the management of psoriasis, eczema, mycosis fungoides, vitiligo, large-plaque parapsoriasis, graft-versus-host disease, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, often in combination with the drug psoralen. In 2000, a meta-analysis of 51 phototherapy trials for psoriasis was compiled. The effectiveness of these trials ranged from 74% to 100%. An earlier meta-analysis of 129 trials estimated that the rate of skin clearance (meaning a 95% to 100% improvement) was 70% for PUVA and 44% for broad-band UVB. UVB phototherapy is generally considered the first line of treatment for psoriasis patients, as it does not require the use of sensitizing chemicals. If a patient’s psoriasis is resistant to UVB phototherapy, PUVA phototherapy is then considered. Learn more about psoriasis lights here.
Amber Sleep Lamps
Amber sleep lamps emit a narrow spectrum of amber light to allow healthy melatonin production and promote healthy sleep patterns. The blue wavelengths in sunlight react with melanopsin receptors in our retinas, telling our bodies to cease production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Common lighting devices like computer screens, fluorescent lights, and cellphone screens emit high levels of blue light. Because blue light can block production of the sleep hormone melatonin (causing insomnia and Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome), the use of amber light in the evening can dramatically improve nighttime sleep habits. Numerous studies demonstrate that limiting your nighttime exposure to amber wavelengths of light, either through the use of amber sleep lamps or blue light blocking glasses will allow healthy melatonin production (an average increased melatonin production of 90 minutes), leading to healthier sleep patterns and reduced insomnia. Read amber sleep lamp reviews here.
Amber Sleep Glasses
For those who cannot control their lighting environments at night, particularly night shift workers, amber glasses or amber sleep glasses can offer the same benefits as amber lamps, blocking the blue wavelengths of light that inhibit melatonin production. Blue wavelengths can block up to 99% of our bodies’ melatonin production, causing insomnia, shift work disorder, and even significant increases in rates of cancer and diabetes. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of amber lenses in correcting Shift Worker Syndrome and Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome in shift workers, allowing healthy melatonin production and normalized sleep patterns. Read amber sleep glasses reviews here.
Similar to amber lenses, amber gamer glasses reduce eye strain during nighttime gaming and have similarly been proven to reduced gamer insomnia and Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome in late night gamers, internet browsers, and coders. Learn more about gamer glasses here.
Red migraine glasses or migraine sunglasses offer the only truly drug-free relief for migraine sufferers, particularly those suffering from optical migraines, ocular migraines, photophobic migraines, and migraines with visual auras. Because migraines are often triggered or exacerbated by blue wavelengths of light, blocking these wavelengths with red migraine lenses has been proven to prevent over 80% of migraines and relieve migraine pain in as little as 10 seconds. Read Migraine Glasses Reviews Here.
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