Light Therapy Glasses

Light is the strongest zeitgeber. It can help you shift your circadian clock (see light as zeitgeber) and improve winter depression (see S.A.D.).

Daylight lamps have established as the go-to device for light therapy and they still are. However, these lamps require you to sit at close distance for a daily 30-60 minute session duration. This is perceived as an inconvenience by many people.1

Light therapy glasses, also known as light wearables or light visors provide a portable solution to light therapy. Worn like a pair of glasses, LEDs in the frame illuminate your eyes, providing light therapy regardless of you location. Compared to daylight lamps, it also bears the benefits that your distance to the light source as well as the angle of illumination are and stay optimal, i.e. exactly what the manufacturers had in mind, throughout the session.

Different to the classic 5000-10000 lux recommendation for daylight lamps,4  light therapy glasses tend to make use of the fact that the ipRGC cells responsible for circadian clock changes are most sensitive in the blue-green wavelengths with a peak around 480nm. Significantly lower intensities (~100 lux) with such wavelengths has been shown to to nevertheless affect our circadian system.2,The light emitted by the glasses is usually either blue, green or blue-enriched white light with intensities far below 10 000 lux.

The first pair of light therapy glasses was Luminette by the Belgian startup Lucimed, launched in 2006. Since then, a handful of competitors have joined the market with different value proposition foci (more compact/regular glasses lookalike/insomnia treatment). As light therapy glasses have not really hit the mainstream market yet, most of the available products are currently produced by startups/university spin-offs who  build upon a strong scientific foundation and focus solely on this product. This results in a good trustworthiness of the products (to me).

Regarding price, light therapy glasses currently range from €198,00 to $299.

Conclusion

Light therapy glasses are an innovative approach to light therapy that makes it easier to be consistent with the treatment. Wavelength, intensity and angle are an optimized for efficacy and comfort and don’t rely on your self-discipline to stay that way.

While the portability of light therapy glasses may be a great advantage over daylight lamps to some, others may dislike of wearing a futuristic-looking illuminating device in their face. Whatever you prefer yourself, having alternatives to choose between may help people to choose the solution that works best for them and effectively improves their situation.

[1] Oren, D. A., Shannon, N. J., Carpenter, C. J., & Rosenthal, N. E. (1991). Usage patterns of phototherapy in seasonal affective disorder. Comprehensive Psychiatry32(2), 147–152. https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-440X(91)90007-Y

 

[2] Rüger, M., St Hilaire, M. A., Brainard, G. C., Khalsa, S.-B. S., Kronauer, R. E., Czeisler, C. A., & Lockley, S. W. (2013). Human phase response curve to a single 6.5 h pulse of short-wavelength light. The Journal of Physiology591(1), 353–363. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2012.239046
 

[3] Gabel, V., Maire, M., Reichert, C. F., Chellappa, S. L., Schmidt, C., Hommes, V., … Cajochen, C. (2013). Effects of Artificial Dawn and Morning Blue Light on Daytime Cognitive Performance, Well-being, Cortisol and Melatonin Levels. Chronobiology International30(8), 988–997. https://doi.org/10.3109/07420528.2013.793196

[4] Blume, C., Garbazza, C., & Spitschan, M. (2019, September 1). Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie. Dr. Dietrich Steinkopff Verlag GmbH and Co. KG. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x