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Deep Red Light; “Recharges” Aging Retinas 

 

 

 

 

 

     Recently, researchers at University College of London (UCL) have done studies to improve eyesight in bumblebees and mice.   This year, they have published a study where they applied the idea to people.  Deep red light was used in a group of 24 adults to examine how it would benefit each person’s eyesight.  UCL looked to manipulate the performance of mitochondria using light.  Mitochondria is often thought of as the “powerhouse of cells”.  They absorb nutrients and break them down into energy rich molecules (these are called adenosine triphosphate (ATP)), which supplies the cell as it does its job.  The retina’s cells require a high amount of energy, and by the time we’re 40, the retina is already starting to age.  The density of the mitochondrial is the greatest in our photoreceptors.  As these decline, it directly impacts vision.  A mitochondria’s performance is affected by light absorbance.  Longer light waves, from 650-1000 nanometers are absorbed and improve the performance of the mitochondria as it seeks to produce energy.  As if you were recharging a battery, deep red light recharges the strength of our retina.  

     This study consisted of 27 healthy participants, from 28 to 72 years old.   They were given a 670-nanometer red LED light and instructed to stare at the light for 3 minutes every day, for two weeks.   One half of the group was used to measure rod sensitivity and the other to measure color-contrassensitivity (cone).   In the color-contrast sensitivity group, the researchers measured their response to the red visual axis (protan) and the blue visual axis (tritan), both before the study and after.  At the beginning of the study, the individuals in this group who were over 40, exhibited signs of visual decline.   Specifically, by an average of 20% worse compared to those who were younger than 38.    

    By the conclusion of the study, it was found that the older participants showed a 22% increase of color-contrast sensitivity in the red visual axis and 10% improvement in the blue visual axis.  The improvement of the rod group was found in over half of the group, including a few of the younger participants.  While these findings are not dramatic for young people, this certainly does benefit the aging population.  The authors hypothesized on how the lens of our eye yellows with age, and how this could possibly affect our blue visual axis absorption.  

     This study gives hope to aging eyesight.   This is a tool we can add to our anti-aging arsenal Always speak with your eye doctor before pursuing any treatment, especially when it involves light.  As we seek to offer better vision to our community, this study comes alongside us to offer simple technology for a great solution.  

 

Heather Krause, Medical Assistant 

Brought to you by Dr. Alethia Pantazis, founder of Vitality Medicine 

 
    

 

 

 

Sources:  

https://newatlas.com/medical/deep-red-light-aging-retinas/ 

https://www.europeanmedical.info/aging-geriatrics/agingrelated-changes-in-the-retina.html 

https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/gerona/glaa155/5863431?redirectedFrom=fulltext 

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-06-declining-eyesight-deep-red.html 

https://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/can-red-light-exposure-improve-eyesight#:~:text=Looking%20into%20a%20deep%20red%20light%20for%203,to%20a%20study%20published%20in%20Journals%20of%20Gerontology. 

Author
Dr. Alethia Pantazis, M.D. Dr. Alethia Pantazis is the owner and founder of Vitality Medicine! She's passionate about the health of our patients, family and friends. She enjoys reading, cooking and ultimate Frisbee, as well as spending time with her husband and four children in Central Florida.

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