In the 1920’s and 1930’s Dr. Harry Spitler developed a system known as Syntonic Optometry, which uses colored light, shone into the patient’s eyes, to treat a variety of physiological and emotional disorders, far beyond the traditional bounds of optometry. The light is shone into the patients’ eyes from a special light source equipped with a variety of colored filters. The underlying principle of this therapy is to balance the activities of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems using colors that are either stimulating or calming.
Colored pulsed light can be used as a catalyst in the process of psychotherapy. Here the more subtle emotional effect of different colors is combined with the penetrating effect of pulsed light to accelerate the therapeutic process of uncovering and bringing out deeply buried emotional material for processing and relief. Clearly, this procedure is highly dependent on the skill of the therapist; the selection of light color and flash frequency is an interactive process, involving a high level of awareness and even intuition on the part of the therapist
Some forms of light therapy involve shining light on parts of the body other than the eyes. The use of blue light as a treatment for neo-natal jaundice is a well-established medical procedure. A recent study reported that merely shining light on the backs of subjects’ knees was sufficient to alter the timing of the internal circadian body clock; this suggests that the effects of bright light on SAD may not be entirely mediated through the eyes. LASER light or colored light applied to acupuncture points in a modern-day version of traditional Chinese medicine. Another work done in Russia, over many years with thousands of patients, using a technique known as blood photo-modification in which blood is drawn from the patient, circulated though a glass tube where it is irradiated with laser light, and then returned directly to the patient; astounding results were reported for variety of diseases.
Narrow-band red light therapy in perennial allergic rhinitis and nasal polyposis:
Allergic rhinitis and nasal polyposis are common nasal diseases, but the available treatment modalities have only limited success. In this, patients with allergic rhinitis and with nasal polyposis can be illuminated (intranasal) at 660 nm for 4.4 minutes three times a day for 14 days (total dose 6 joules per day). Allergic rhinitis, if uncomplicated by polyps or chronic sinusitis, can be effectively treated by narrow-band red light illumination of the nasal mucosa at 660 nm, with marked alleviation of clinical symptoms. Whenever possible, candidates for phototherapy should be selected by endoscopic examination.
Light therapy has been considered a rather benign treatment with few side effects. A systematic report of side effects to light therapy using a light visor showed that approximately 20% of patients reported mild side effects, including headache, eyestrain, and feeling wired. A more controversial topic is the potential for prolonged bright light exposure to produce harmful effects on the retina. The intensities of light used in light therapy regimens are not considered harmful to the human retina based on short-term studies, but the retinal effects of long-term bright light exposure are not known.
Because of the potential harmful effects of long-term W exposure, light therapy devices should have W filters that block wavelengths below 400 nm. In a comparison light box study, cool-white fluorescent lights were as effective as full-spectrum fluorescent lights. Various light sources (including incandescent lights) are effective for treating SAD. Devices other than light boxes were also studied for light therapy. There was no relationship between the intensity of light and various measures of response to treatment, despite the fact that very low intensity light (60 lux) was used. This contrasts to most light box studies where a dear intensity-response relationship is found. The proximity of the visor light source to the eye may increase the amount of light that reaches the retina, as compared to a light box. Lux, a unit of illumination, may also not be the best measure of the biologic or therapeutic effect of light. There is increasing evidence that even low illumination can affect biologic parameters, so that for some patients, light as low as 100 lux may be therapeutically effective.
In this way, light therapy can be used for treatment of various physical diseases and Psychological disorders.
Prof. Prashant B. Patel, PICT, Pune-43