Photobiology is the study of light in biological systems. And what an amazing field it is!
Over the years in my practice, I’ve noticed that some of my patients before cataract surgery appear older and more infirm than expected. They seemed frail, with slow thinking, and sometimes had pretty awful hygiene. We know that loss, dimming, and blurring of vision can sometimes cause depression, which can cause all of those consequences. It was a happy thing to see them a few weeks after cataract surgery; smiling, chatting, clean, and neat. It shows the powerful effect of bright, well-focused light.
I have observed kids, doing poorly in school and labeled ‘ADD’ or ‘problem children’ who experienced a similar turnaround when their farsightedness and astigmatism were corrected, resulting in life-changing improvements in school.
What else can light do? Can you keep a “secret”? Lots!
Researchers are now using laser light beams to turn on and off single nerve cells and learn how the eye and brain work. New cameras are being developed that can photograph the retina and see Alzheimer’s disease before any other test.
I will share two of my newest favorites with you.
Migraines: New research shows that the 525 wavelength of green light reduces pain and sensitivity to light when you are having a migraine. I have some migraine issues, but not severe. Recently, I bought some 525 green sunglasses on Amazon for $12 and noticed they made me feel more comfortable. So, I dropped another $25 on a flexible, plastic strip of LED lights (16 feet long), that happens to be almost exactly 525. I plugged them in and threw them in a corner where they create a bright green glow. A week later, I can’t bear to turn them off. They are so very soothing, even though I have had no migraines recently. It’s going to be Christmas forever, I think.
Joint and Muscle Pain: It’s not much fun getting old. As I am pushing 70, I have all manner of aches and pains that grumble and shout at me when the weather changes. I have a bad knee, a bad wrist, a bad foot arch, and a shoulder (due to injuries that happened when I was young, dumb, and having fun). Pain medicines have side effects and I avoid narcotics (opioids) at all costs. I use Tylenol, aspirin, and ibuprofen, but sparingly because they are less safe with daily use. I can’t take a handful of them every time something hurts! They are also very slow onset, so I have to stop and wait for them to kick in. I would love to have a hot tub, but have no place to put one, and they are expensive to buy and keep up.
A few years back, I discovered research showing deep penetrating infra-red light that helped bone and muscle pain by decreasing inflammation and stimulating healing. I dropped $179.99 on a Tendlite Red Light Therapy device from Amazon, no prescription needed. It is a solid, well-built, flashlight sized, rechargeable device, using 660 deep penetrating red light. When bones, joints, and muscles hurt (like they did this morning as I was getting ready for a walk), after 2-3 minutes the pain is gone and the walk is on. Over time, the severity of these aging pains has decreased suggesting that regeneration has occurred. I am amazed. It is also faster, better, and safer than pills. One warning: wear the safety glasses provided and don’t look at it, so you don’t damage your eyes. I strongly recommend only the Tendlite. All the others I tried were cheap ‘junk’, less powerful, and did not penetrate deep into the bones and joints, and therefore did not work. I can feel this heat up an inch deep into my joints, and the warmth lingers. Use Tendlite, or don’t bother. And no, I don’t get a commission. If you prefer a handful of pills, be my guest.
Macular Degeneration: Deep penetrating Red light of 670 wavelength has recently been shown in a small trial to benefit macular degeneration and possibly glaucoma as well. It is too soon to make recommendations, but if it helps the eye like it does my wrist and ankle, that would be wonderful. DON’T USE THE TENDLITE on your eye, it is too strong and will damage your retina. I expect to see an eye-specific design come out in the next 2-3 years. Stay tuned.