Eyesight can be improved by red light

Eyesight can be improved by red light

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New treatment for deteriorating eyesight in old age

Decreasing eyesight seems to be significantly relieved by a three-minute observation of a deep red light every day. This could particularly help older people, whose eyes naturally degrade with age.

A study by University College London found that red light can be used to treat diminishing eyesight. The results were published in the journal Journals of Gerontology.

Study had 24 participants

For the study, 24 people (twelve male, twelve female) who had no eye disease were examined between the ages of 28 and 72 years. The eyes of all participants were tested for the sensitivity of their so-called rods and suppositories at the beginning of the study.

Why do you see worse and worse in old age?

Unfortunately, with increasing age, people are affected by naturally diminishing eyesight, so affordable home therapy would be really desirable for the eyes. Naturally occurring poor eyesight is due to retinal aging.

LED flashlight against deteriorating eyesight

Both the sensitivity of the retina and perceived colors diminish in old age, which is an important issue in an increasingly aging population. In order to curb or reverse this natural decline, the researchers tried to irradiate the aging cells of the retina with short, long-wave flashes of light. For this they used a hand-held LED flashlight.

What role do photoreceptor cells play in vision?

In people around the age of 40, the cells in the retina of the eye begin to age. The pace of this breakdown is caused in part by the fact that the mitochondria of the cell, which are responsible for producing energy and increasing cell function, also decrease. The mitochondrial density is highest in the photoreceptor cells of the retina, which have a high energy requirement. As a result, the retina ages faster than other organs, which results in a significant decrease in photoreceptor function because the receptor cells lack the energy to perform their normal role.

Mitochondrial performance affected by light

The researchers built on their previous findings in mice, bumblebees and fruit flies, all of which experienced significant improvements in the function of the retinal photoreceptors when their eyes were exposed to 670 nanometer wavelength light (long-wave deep red light). The mitochondria have specific light absorption properties that influence their performance: Longer wavelengths in the range from 650 to 1000 nm are absorbed and improve the mitochondrial power to increase energy production, reports the research group.

How do people see

The photoreceptors of the retina consist of cones, which mediate the seeing of colors, and rods, which enable peripheral vision and adapt vision in dim and dark light.

Participants received LED flashlights

All participants in the study received a small LED flashlight to take home after testing their cones and chopsticks. They were asked to look into the deep red 670 nm light sources for three minutes daily for two weeks. Then the sensitivity of your rods and suppositories was tested again.

Younger people did not benefit from the light

The researchers found that the 670 nm light had no effect in younger people, but significant improvements were actually achieved in people around 40 and older. The sensitivity of the color contrast improved by up to 20 percent in some people aged 40 and over. The improvements were more pronounced in the blue part of the color spectrum, which is more susceptible to aging, explains the research group.

Improved vision in low light

The sensitivity of the chopsticks (the ability to see in low light) also improved significantly in people aged about 40 years and over, albeit less than the color contrast, the researchers report.

Eyesight of older people improved significantly

The results of the study show that the eyesight of older people can be significantly improved by briefly exposing the affected people to the wavelengths of light that recharge the energy system that has decreased in the retinal cells.

Treatment technology is safe and inexpensive

The technology is simple and very secure. It uses deep red light of a certain wavelength, which is absorbed by the mitochondria in the retina, which provide energy for cell functions, reports the research team. The technology can be widely used due to the inexpensive manufacture of the devices. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Harpreet Shinhmar, Manjot Grewal, Sobha Sivaprasad, Chris Hogg, Victor Chong et al .: Optically improved mitochondrial function redeems aged human visual decline, in Journals of Gerontology (published June 29, 2020), Journals of Gerontology

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