Our eyes are probably among the most hardworking organs of our body. They are at work from the moment we open them when we wake up, and they will continue to work until the moment we close them when we go to sleep.
Our eyes do a heavy work for us. They take in loads of information about the world around us in the form of shapes, colours, movements, and more. Then they send this information to our brain for processing.
Thanks to our eyes, we are able to perceive things around us. We can indulge in the beauty and grandeur of our surroundings. We can live in colour and in light.
In this post we will explore how red and near infrared light can help take care of our eyes. We will reveal how our eyes work and explain how red and NIR light therapy helps in this work.
Our Eyes in Focus
Our eyes are complex. They are made up of a specialized type of cells known as photoreceptors. These photoreceptors are responsible for converting light into signals that are sent to our brain.
The part of the eye where photoreceptor cells can be found is the retina. It is this part of our eyes that we are concerned about in this blog.
However, before focusing on the retina of our eyes, let us mention their other parts which are equally important – the anterior chamber, the aqueous humor, the choroid, the ciliary body, the conjunctiva, the cornea, the fovea, the iris, the lens, the macula, the optic nerve, the pupil, the sclera, the trabecular meshwork and the vitreous humor.
The retina, working with all these other parts make our eyes function optimally. To know more about the anatomy and physiology of our eyes, check this 2010 study
Now onto the retina which is what we are most concerned about in this post. What is its function? How does it relate to red and near infrared light?
Red Light Therapy At Home
Photoreception in Our Eyes
The retina is the layer of cells lining the back wall inside our eyes. This layer senses light and sends signals to the brain so that we can see.
This layer of special cells in the retina of our eyes are called photoreceptors. These photoreceptor cells change light into energy that is transmitted to the brain in the form of electrical impulses.
There are two types of photoreceptor cells – the rods and the cones. The rods perceive black and white shades and enable our night vision. The cones, on the other hand, perceive the different colours therefore providing our central or detail vision.
The retina of our eyes sends light as electrical impulses through the optic nerves to the brain. The optic nerves are made up of millions of nerve fibers that transmit these impulses to the visual cortex — the part of the brain responsible for our sense of sight.
The heavy load in the functioning of our eyes is being carried out by the retina through photoreceptor cells. Therefore, these cells need more energy to function optimally.
Of all the cells in our body, mitochondrial density is greatest in photoreceptors. This means that there are more mitochondria in our eyes than anywhere else. Research shows that the human retina contains 120 million rod cells and 6 million cone cells
Effect of Photoreception in Our Eyes
Because of the type of work that our eyes do and the high demands of energy that it requires, studies have shown that the eyes, particularly the retina, ages faster than the other organs of the body
A study published in 2020 at Oxford’s “The Journals of Gerontology” shows that the retina ages with a 70% ATP reduction over life and a significant decline in photoreceptor function.
Another scholarly study mentions that a decline in photoreceptor density can be linked to reductions in retinal function and the onset of age-related disease.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) website lists some eye problems which can involve photoreceptor cells. They include, among others, colour blindness, photokeratitis, retinitis pigmentosa and Usher syndrome.
Red and NIR Light Therapy
Red and NIR Light Therapy (RLT) is also called photobiomodulation (PMB) or low-level light therapy (LLLT). It refers to treatments that use wavelengths of red and near-infrared light from light emitting diodes (LEDs) for health and wellness purposes
One of the areas being explored in RLT studies is its application to the retinal aging of the eyes.
To provide a background for this, let us for a little bit, discuss the two forms of light that merits our attention in RLT – red light and near infrared light.
Red light is a type of electromagnetic radiation which can be found at the lower end of the visible spectrum. Visible spectrum is one of the seven segments of the electromagnetic spectrum – the only one that we can perceive through our eyes.
Arranged according to decreasing wavelength, the visible spectrum can be seen as the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. More simply, this range of wavelengths is called visible light.
The NASA website writes that typically, the human eye can detect wavelengths from 380 to 700 nanometers. Hence, red light can be perceived by the human eye.
According to the Live Science website, red light has a wavelength of up to 740 nanometers but is still visible to the naked eye.
On the other hand, infrared light lies on the region of the electromagnetic spectrum between microwave and visible light.
According to the NASA website, the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum is divided into near-, mid-, and far-infrared sections.
Though not visible to the naked eye, infrared light can be detected as heat. The Science Direct website estimated the wavelength of infrared light to be about 1100–2500 nanometers.
To learn more about what RLT is and what it does, watch this video explainer which talks about it in detail.
So, in simple terms, how does red and NIR light therapy work?
Red and NIR light therapy works by delivering low-level radiation of red and near infrared light to the chromophores in the cells using cytochrome c oxidase (Cox) as the main light-absorbing protein .
Cytochrome c oxidase (Cox), or CCO, is a photosensitive enzyme found within the mitochondria of our cells. Studies show that the enzyme responds best to red and near infrared light.
After absorbing red and NIR light, the Cox in the mitochondria of the cell triggers an increase in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – the body’s source of energy at the cellular level.
Benefits of Red and NIR Light Therapy to the Eyes
A lot of scholarly studies show that red and near infrared light therapy improves eyesight. The reason for this is a tiny organelle inside any cell – the mitochondria.
The mitochondria of our cells produce energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This happens during a cellular mechanism called aerobic respiration.
Since the largest concentration of mitochondria in the body can be found within the receptor cells in the retina of our eyes, it makes sense that application of RLT within some parameters can improve eyesight.
A 2020 study revealed that the mitochondria in human cells have specific light absorbance characteristics influencing their performance. Researchers found out that longer wavelengths spanning 650 to 1,000 nanometers, wavelengths that fall between red and near infrared, greatly improve mitochondrial complex activity, membrane potential, and ATP production.
A 2017 study suggests that 670 nanometer light can significantly improve aged retinal function. The researchers reasoned that this may either be due to increased ATP production for photoreceptor ion pumps or to reduced aged inflammation. Both are known effects of red and NIR light.
As early as 2014, a scholarly study revealed that near infrared light therapy can increase ATP in retinal cells and likened the effect to recharging mitochondrial batteries in old eyes.
In 2017, a study showed that improving mitochondrial function significantly reduces metabolic, visual, motor and cognitive decline. In the study, the researchers indicated that a 670 – nanometer exposure to red light may be a simple route for resolving problems of ageing including rapid loss of vision.
A study in 2016 pointed that a brief 670 nanometer exposure to near infrared has a significant positive impact on the redox state of cytochrome c oxidase in aged retina. This reduces ageing and macular degeneration of the eyes.
Red and NIR Light Therapy Devices: Are They Safe?
The various scholarly studies mentioned above established the overwhelming science behind the effectivity and efficiency of red and near-infrared light therapy in relation to improving eyesight.
Taking these groundbreaking researchers into consideration, it is therefore not totally surprising at all to see that more and more people are now turning to red light therapy devices for health and wellness reasons.
An important question, however, still needs to be asked. Are red light devices safe?
A study reported by the Harvard Gazette website mentioned that researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) suggests that light therapy is safe and may even help patients with moderate brain injury.
It helps to also mention that Red and NIR light therapy uses LED devices that are approved by the FDA and other agencies like the CE and ROHS.
In addition, red and NIR light therapy devices do not make use of harmful electromagnetic radiation like ultraviolet rays, so it is safe. It uses, on the other hand, very low levels of radiant energy and does not hurt or burn the skin.
Finally, red and NIR light therapy is 100% non-invasive so there is no need for a recovery time after treatment. Once you are done with the therapy, you can continue doing your daily activities without worry.
How to best proceed with red and NIR light therapy?
If you want to try the amazing benefits of red and NIR light therapy, visit our online shop here to learn about the amazing selection of red light therapy devices that we offer. These devices are safe, 100% non-invasive and FDA cleared.
We take pride in the quality of our red light devices. Our team of experts have captured in these devices all the irradiance ; power and efficacy of available clinical treatments. You can have them all, minus the difficulty and stress of going to treatment centres and facilities just for therapy in the comfort of your own home.
No more hassles. Our devices are available in a compact and affordable packages that you can try in the convenience of your own home in your own free time.
Red light therapy treatments are simple and are easily done.
Leredd recommends for general treatments to start with 10 minutes per treatment area, ideally twice daily. Please head to our dosage calculator for more exact times depending on your treatment. Always remember to be consistent.
⦁ Make sure to position yourself at a comfortable distance where the light displays a consistent spread of light on the skin
⦁ Expose your treatment area to approximately 5-20 minute treatment times per coverage area for best results.
Try Red and NIR light therapy and experience how it can produce significant health benefits described by the many scientific and clinical studies above. However, bear in mind that you ought to combine your sessions with a healthy lifestyle and you will be surprised by the most amazing results. You will ask yourself why you hadn’t started earlier !
If you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact us here. We will be very happy to assist you in any way we can.