One thing that most people find themselves going through as they grow older is a decline in their vision, but a recent study reveals that the issue may have a simple and cheap solution.
The study, published in the Journals of Geology, found that by staring at a deep red light for only 3 minutes daily, older participants were able to improve their sight significantly.
Our retinas are equipped with two types of photoreceptor cells, called rods and cones due to the way they are shaped. Rods are located on the boundary of the retina and give us peripheral vision while also aiding us to see in conditions of low light, while cones provide us with color vision.
Both kinds of cells have strong energy needs and they receive it in the form of a compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is created by their mitochondria. But it is important to note that from the age of about 40 and on, our mitochondria start functioning with less efficiency, which means we receive less energy for our cones and rods, and our vision declines as a result.
Long-wavelength light which goes up to 650 to 1000 nanometers (it has a deep red color) is known to improve mitochondrial performance, and this is why the experts decided to look into whether this could be somehow used to restore vision in people who are older.
In their research, the experts gathered 24 volunteers aged between 28 and 72, none of whom had ocular issues.
On the first day, all of them were given a number of tests designed to determine how well their cones and rods were operating.
The team examined rod sensitivity by asking people to try and point out weak light signals in the darkness, while cone function was determined with the help of a color contrast test, in which participants had to identify colored letters against a background that is of a highly similar hue.
Later, participants were given a basic LED torch that emits a deep red light with a wavelength of 670 nanometers and told to stare at it for 3 minutes every day for a couple of weeks. This could also be achieved with closed eyes because the eyelid does not filter out red light.
Looking At A Deep Red Light For Just A Few Minutes A Day Can Help Restore Damaged Eyesight – IFLScience – GENERAL PHYSICS LABORATORY (GPL)
Looking At A Deep Red Light For Just A Few Minutes A Day Can Help Restore Damaged …https://t.co/Wsw5ie7cvD
— General Physics Lab (@genphys) June 30, 2020
At the end of the study, when eye tests were given out once again, subjects aged 40 and over showed a significant increase in cone function, with an improvement of 22% on average.
The strengthened color sensitivity was especially high at the blue end of the color spectrum, which the team expected as this range of vision is known to be strongly affected by mitochondrial decline.
Rod function betterments could also be observed, even though they were not as impressive. The reason for this may be because rods are known to expire when their energy needs are not met, and most people lose about 30% of their rods by 70 years of age. On the other hand, cones simply stop functioning but do not die, and it seems like the red light treatment restored these cells with great success.
Study author Glen Jeffrey said that research
“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 re-charging a battery.”
Fortunately, the tech is also fairly cheap to make, which means it could be widely available quite soon.
“Our devices cost about £12 [$15] to make, so the technology is highly accessible to members of the public,” the Professor said.
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