Is LED Light Good for You…and Your Eyes?

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Nearly 30 years ago, I discussed in my newsletter the amazing healing properties associated with light energy or photons. At the time, most people probably thought I was nuts or had been watching too many episodes of Star Trek. Since that time, though, the public has become more aware of how various wavelengths of light energy can be used in healthcare.

Today, laser eye surgery is very common to both heal and reshape the eye. Lasers are also used in cosmetic surgery, tattoo removal, clearing clogged arteries, breaking down kidney and gallbladder stones, destroying cancer cells, treating varicose veins, and much more.

Laser therapy is not a do-it-yourself treatment. Most equipment is very expensive and it can obviously be dangerous when used improperly. However, there are safe ways to take advantage of light energy to improve your health.

What Is Light Energy?

Light energy occurs in the form of energy packets called photons. All life on this planet is dependent upon light energy derived from the sun. The sun’s energy is first captured when the chlorophyll molecules in plants absorb photons. This energy is then used in the process of photosynthesis to create glucose and oxygen.

Through the consumption of plants, animals (and humans) are able to release the energy stored in glucose.

We also receive energy directly from the sun, independent of our food supply. And even though the amount we receive is far less than that which comes from food, it is essential for good health.

Photons also enter the body through the eye. These are absorbed by several different light-sensitive chemicals like rhodopsin. Rhodopsin transfers these power bundles to the crucial little energy factories inside cells called mitochondria.

Mitochondria density is highest in the retina’s photoreceptor cells, which have a very high energy demand. This is why the retina ages faster than other organs in the body. Over a lifetime, energy production there is reduced by 70%, which explains why by the age of 40, people begin to lose their ability to distinguish contrast in colors and adapt their vision in dim lighting, and lose overall retinal sensitivity.

It has been shown that certain wavelengths of light influence the performance of mitochondria. The absorption of longer wavelengths from 650 to 1000nm improve mitochondrial performance to increase energy production. Studies with bumblebees, mice, and fruit flies showed that when their eyes were exposed to 670nm deep red light, there was significant improvement in their retinas’ photoreceptors.

LED Effects on Eyes

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a readily available source of photons, whose healing powers are just beginning to be utilized. You’ve probably seen them being used to treat skin problems like acne and balding. Now we have additional research on LED's effects on eyes in humans too.

In a recent study, 24 people between the ages of 28 and 72 who had no eye diseases underwent a variety of eye tests and were then given a small LED device to take home. They were told to look into its deep red 670nm light beam three minutes a day for two weeks.

When they were retested, color sensitivity improved by up to 20% in many of those aged 40 and older. Also, rod sensitivity (ability to see in low light) improved significantly.

In the researcher’s words, "Our study shows that it is possible to significantly improve vision that has declined in aged individuals using simple brief exposures to light wavelengths that recharge the energy system that has declined in the retina cells, rather like recharging a battery. The technology is simple and very safe, using deep red light of a specific wavelength, that is absorbed by the mitochondria in the retina that supply energy for cellular function.”

Are LED Lights Safe for Eyes?

Yes, LED lights are safe for eyes, and this therapy is inexpensive and readily available to practically everyone. All you need is a lamp or light socket for a standard light bulb, the proper LED bulb, and three minutes a day.

Here’s the type of bulb I recommend: 21-Watt, Deep Red 660nm LED Lamp Light Bulb E26 for Aquarium Plants. You can find these on eBay, Amazon, and at other retailers.

You’ll want to order the E26 LED light bulb since it has the proper base used in this country. Many of the foreign suppliers on eBay and Amazon are selling bulbs with E27 bases that are designed for the European market instead of North America. I would also recommend a 60-degree lens, if that’s an available option, rather than a 30- or 90-degree lens. The light will be focused on both eyes instead of being too narrow or too wide.

Important Caveats

While this therapy is safe, I highly recommend working with an experienced eye doctor if you decide to try red light therapy on your eyes. It’s a good idea to have a comprehensive eye exam beforehand to ensure your eyes are generally healthy and to rule out any serious conditions. It’s also a smart idea to let your doctor know you want to try this, in case he/she finds a reason why you shouldn’t.

In addition, here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Don’t look directly into the LEDs. Although deep red frequencies haven’t been shown to injure the eyes at all (quite the opposite), there’s no need to leave your eyes open. That wavelength of light easily penetrates through the eyelid and reaches the retina. The eyelid does not filter the red light. Always err on the side of safety when it comes to your eyes. Just keep your eyes closed while facing the LEDs for the 3-minute period.
  • Choose a “showerhead” type bulb with multiple LEDs. That is similar to what was used in the study. The goal is to spread the light across the retina instead of trying to focus a single bright point on the retina.

Finally, while the study utilized an LED device with a reported frequency of 670 nm, LEDs typically emit a range of frequencies. LEDs in the 670 frequency are difficult to find. But the company Cree is a global leader in LED lighting. When I reviewed their technical datasheets, they listed the peak wavelength range for deep or photo red emitters from 650nm (P2 group) to 670nm (P5 Group). A 660nm deep red LED bulb would fall within that range.

Dr. David Williams

Meet Dr. David Williams

For more than 25 years, Dr. David Williams has traveled the world researching alternative therapies for our most common health problems—therapies that are inexpensive and easy to use, and therapies that treat the root cause of a problem rather than just its symptoms.

More About Dr. David Williams