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Red Light Might Slow Eyesight Decline in Those Over 40, Study Suggests

The exposure is like ‘recharging a battery,’ one researcher says.

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Red light may be able to stop the natural eyesight decline experienced by people over age 40, a new study suggests.

The retina ages faster than other organs, the American Optometric Association notes. Researchers looked at how to halt the decline by improving mitochondrial function in a pilot study published June 29 in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A.

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Researchers, primarily affiliated with University College London, looked at the effects of brief daily exposure to 670 nm light devices over a two-week period. The study included 24 participants ages 28 to 72 with good overall health and eye health. They were split into two groups — one measuring rod thresholds and the other color contrast sensitivity.

Study participants were then asked to shine the light every morning for two weeks on their dominant eye for three minutes, AOA explains in an article about the study.

Older participants had improved photoreceptor function after the exposure. In fact, the red light exposure was like “recharging a battery,” lead author Glen Jeffery, UCL professor, was quoted saying.

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The researchers said more study is needed.

Karl Citek, OD, chairman of the AOA’s Commission on Ophthalmic Standards, pointed out that the study was small and that it did not show improvement among younger subjects.

“Finally, there may not be any benefit for patients who already have retinal disease, two of the most common being diabetic retinopathy (DR) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD),” ha said. “The authors state that clinical trials with DR and AMD patients have begun, but that another group recently published a pilot study of AMD patients showing no benefit to red light exposure.

He added: “It’s nice to see there were changes in a short time period, but there’s no evidence to date to show the impact if it’s done for longer periods, or that it can be used as a preventative measure by anyone under 40.”

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