As we age, our eyes undergo natural changes.
Between the ages of 37-60, many people begin to experience difficulties such as reading small print or working on a computer for extended periods.
Eye strain becomes more common, and certain factors, including chronic illnesses like diabetes or high blood pressure, a family history of eye conditions, or visually demanding occupations, can increase the risk of developing eye and vision problems (American Optometric Association, n.d.).
Recognizing the importance of maintaining good eye health and understanding the warning signs of potential issues is essential. This article will delve into the benefits of red-light therapy, specifically near-infrared light therapy (NIR), in preserving and improving eye health as we age.
Age-Related Eye Changes and Warning Signs:
As we age, changes in vision clarity can signal underlying health concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes. These conditions can damage the delicate blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye (Cai, n.d.).
Floaters and Flashes:
It's common to experience floaters, which are tiny specks or spots in your field of vision. However, suppose these floaters become more frequent and are accompanied by bright, flashing lights. In that case, it may indicate a potential issue with the retina, including the risk of possible retinal detachment (American Optometric Association, n.d.).
Distorted or wavy lines and a blank spot in the center of your vision may be signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes a blind spot in the middle of your visual field. (American Optometric Association, n.d.).
What is Red Light and Near-Infrared Therapy?
Red light and near-infrared light are forms of energy defined by nanometers and their effect on the body. Nanometers are a unit of length equivalent to a billionth of a meter. They are used to measure the wavelength of light. Understanding nanometers helps one understand the differences between red and infrared light (Kaiyan Medical, n.d.).
Red-light and near-infrared exist on the same spectrum but penetrate the body differently.Red light is the visible form of the electromagnetic light spectrum. It has the most benefits on the surface of the skin. Red light is the "long end" of the visible spectrum with wavelengths of 630nm-700nm (Kaiyan Medical, n.d.)
Near-infrared light is invisible. It has benefits on the skin's surface but can also penetrate approximately 1.5 inches into the body. Near-infrared light sits adjacent to red light on the electromagnetic spectrum at 800n.m. to 1 millimeter (Kaiyan Medical, n.d.).
How Near-Infrared Therapy Works:
NIR therapy acts on the mitochondria within cells, often called the cell's powerhouses,facilitating energy production needed for optimal cell function (Rogers, 2023).
A key enzyme within the mitochondria, cytochrome oxidase, is the primary receptor for NIR light and is pivotal in promoting eye health. Evidence suggests that NIR light may restore the biological function of damaged mitochondria, increase cellular-protective factors, and inhibit cellular breakdown. By acting on the mitochondria through cytochrome oxidase, NIR therapy can have neuroprotective effects, enhance blood flow to injured nerves in the eye, and improve overall eye function (Zhuet al., 2021).
Now that the differences between red light, near-infrared light, and the method of action have been defined, let's discuss the promising effects on eye health.
Near-Infrared Light Therapy (NIR) and Eye Health:
Near-infrared light therapy (NIR) is non-invasive and has shown therapeutic benefits without side effects (Zhu et al., 2021). The following are a few promising results of NIR on some of the eye changes mentioned above.
Protection Against Retinal Deterioration:
Infrared light therapy has been shown to protect against retinal deterioration by reducing light-induced stress and inflammation (Zhu et al., 2021). Reducing light-induced stress and inflammation can help preserve retinal health, which is crucial for maintaining clear vision.
Improved Vision in Macular Degeneration:
NIR therapy can potentially promote clearer vision in individuals with macular
degeneration. This common age-related eye condition affects central vision (Zhu et al., 2021).
Reduction of Damage Due to Diabetic Retinopathy:
For those with diabetes, red light therapy can help reduce damage caused by diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the retina (Zhu et al., 2021).
As we age, it is essential to remain vigilant about our eye health, especially if we have underlying health conditions, a family history of eye issues, or work in visually demanding or hazardous occupations. Recognizing warning signs such as fluctuating vision, floaters, or distorted images is important for early intervention.
Fortunately, near-infrared light therapy (NIR) offers promising benefits in preserving and improving eye health. If you or someone you know is facing vision challenges associated with aging or chronic illnesses, exploring NIR therapy as a treatment option could make a difference.
To learn more about this innovative approach to eye health, please visit recoverred.com and take the first step toward maintaining clearer, healthier vision well into your golden years.
Written By: Molly Lynsky - 2023
American Optometric Association, (n.d). Adult Vision: 41 to 60 years of Age.
Cai, Cindy Xinji, M.D. (n.d.). Diabetes and Your Eyes: What You Need to Know.
Kaiyan Medical, (n.d.). Red vs. Infrared Light: What is the difference?
Rogers, K. (2023, September 1). mitochondrion. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Zhu, Q., Xiao, S., Hua, Z., Yang, D., Hu, M., Zhu, T., & Zhong, H. (2021). Near Infrared (NIR) Light Therapy of Eye Diseases: A Review. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 18(1), 109-119. https://doi.org/10.7150/ijms.52980