More people are starting to use light therapy for a range of health problems from acne to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). They have become a great alternative for patients who don’t want to take medication in order to improve their health. So is light therapy completely safe? In this article we’ll take a look at how blue light therapy works and what (if any) side effects might occur.
About light boxes
Light boxes designed for therapy are much brighter than the average light bulb. They contain a full-spectrum of colors that mimics the light you would receive from sunshine. It is believed that some wavelengths of blue light found in this full-spectrum bulb are effective for treating people who are light deficient.
How it works
As mentioned above, these light boxes work by mimicking natural sunlight and give off light up to 10,000 lux (compared to 320-500 lux given off by office lights). When the light hits the back of the eye, it stimulates the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus then release serotonin into the body while suppressing the production of melatonin. Serotonin is responsible for regulating your mood and appetite. Melatonin, on the other hand, regulates your sleep and wake patterns.
Who can use light therapy
Light therapy has been shown as an effective treatment for people who suffer from circadian rhythm disorders and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Circadian rhythm disorders include problems with the body’s internal clock. When the circadian rhythm is disturbed, patients find themselves suffering from various sleep disorders. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a health condition that affects people during specific times of the year. Sufferers of SAD often find that they have symptoms of depression during the winter when they are not getting enough light.
Is it safe?
Modern phototherapy lamps used for sleep disorders and SAD are very bright, but do not contain harmful ultraviolet light. This means the lamps are safe for their intended use, as long as the patient does not have any existing eye conditions and is not taking photosensitizing drugs.
As with any type of therapy to treat illnesses and disorders, there are some mild side effects that are generally controllable. The light therapy can have a tendency to cause mild anxiety in some patients. Other side effects can include jitteriness, headaches, nausea and jumpiness. These side effects usually go away by reducing the amount of exposure to the light, reducing the intensity or by moving it farther away from the patient.
Blue light therapy has been shown to be a safe, effective treatment for people suffering from SAD and sleep disorders. If you are still unsure if light therapy is right for you, you should have a talk with your doctor to explore any additional concerns you may have or any alternative treatment options.