Light therapy was discovered by the US National Institute of Health to be a viable treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD in 1982. It was found that regular exposure to prescribed wavelengths of laser, LED or light-emitting diodes, helped alleviate depression levels in patients. Since then, many other beneficial applications have been attributed to the healing effects of this fast-growing technology.
Just recently, the beneficial effects of light therapy have reached the marketing minds of iPhone and iPod producers. They incorporated the BluWave SAD light Therapy application to help their consumers fight depression and night fatigue syndrome for people who lack daylight exposure. Using specialized light spectrum ranging from 450 nm to 490 nm, Apple utilizes LED technology in bringing powerful blue light to their devices’ screens to do the job.
Many other companies have also started yielding good results after incorporating this technology into their existing and new lines of applications. One of them is Royal Philips Electronics. It has engineered a portable light therapy device called goLITE BLU that has been proven to help beat the effects of winter depression without the use of drugs or artificial stimulants. Other companies have invested in making a large selection of therapeutic care solutions that utilize light technology such as products for jet lag, skin care, treatment for sleep disorders, stress relief and relaxation.
Light therapy has also been studied as a safe alternative to treating depression during pregnancy. Parkinson’s disease patients have also shown significant improvements in terms of their motor functions after being exposed to bright light on a regular basis. Adults with dementia have been observed to have minimal disturbances during rest. Phototherapy also has gotten into skincare, as the use of deep penetrating light therapy for at least three days has reduced bacteria in skin pores. Psoriasis and eczema are also among skin conditions that are being given treatment by this amazing light technology. Even pre-cancer conditions like Barret’s esophagus are now being treated with Photo Dynamic Therapy or PDT using light-activated drugs. This technology uses laser light that is emitted from a balloon catheter into the patient’s esophagus.
Another light technology, the Intense Pulsed Light or IPL is now most commonly used by medical practitioners and estheticians in hair removal though the use of specialized xenon flash lamps. This technology also treats dyspigmentation of the skin through excessive sun exposure, Acne Rosacea, telangiectases and vascular or pigmented birthmarks.
The National Institute of Health is continuously doing additional research studies on how light therapy can provide other medico-clinical boons. Among their studies underway include reasearch on the effects of melatonin and light therapy to treat sleep disorders, effects of light therapy on bipolar disorder, using light to treat toe nail fungus, high-intensity light therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, low-level light therapy for chronic neck and shoulder problems and many others.
In the next few months or years, we can expect more breakthroughs in this promising field that started a mere 25 years ago. The emergence of these light therapy applications are proof that we are capable of turning simple available resources into a vast field of medical innovation.