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Red-Light Therapy for Myopia Control?

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

How does light affect not just our eyes but also the natural rhythms of our bodies? It’s a subject which seems to come up for discussion more and more, particularly as the effect of blue light on sleep patterns becomes better known.

Let’s face it, from TV and computer screens to mobile phones, it can be hard to avoid exposure to blue light.

So much so that a 2011 study found that 90% of Americans were exposed to blue light in the hour before bed. [1]

And the problem with that is that blue light disrupts our natural circadian rhythms, being more conducive to waking us up than helping us to settle down for the night.

Poor sleep patterns can lead to a host of conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and stress, none of which are good for the long-term health of our eyes. So if blue light, particularly at night, is not great for our eyes, how about other forms of light?

Well, we know that natural sunlight can be beneficial for eye health. As we have reported in other articles on this site, natural sunlight can help slow down myopia's development. And at the end of 2021, a study revealed that one constituent of sunlight, red light, might also play its part in myopia management.

The Chinese study [2] used a device that emits red light at a wavelength of 650nm to try and emulate the effects of sunlight on the eyes. Treatment was administered to the children by their parents, with each session lasting for three minutes twice daily and five days per week.

Follow-up measurements at one month and twelve months indicated that the red light therapy had resulted in a measurable reduction in the rate of myopic development when compared to a control group. Moreover, the more that parents complied with the treatment regime, the better the outcome. This suggests that there may be further potential for improvements if treatment times were to be increased.

The report’s authors have suggested that a follow-up study be conducted with ‘double-masking and placebo control’ in order to optimise treatment strategies and better understand the long-term implications of red light therapy. In the meantime, we can all play our part in helping to improve our children's eye health by encouraging outdoor play and reducing the blue light effect at bedtime. Try to ensure that children and teenagers don't use mobile devices, tablets and PCs for at least an hour before going to sleep.

If you're a parent whose child has been diagnosed with myopia or if they are struggling with their distance vision, we hope you found MyopiaFocus helpful. Please join our community or sign our petition to get the government and NHS to recognise myopia as an ocular disease/severe ocular condition and fund myopia management for children.

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