A Light Visor is one type of device that you will find referenced in the interesting world of phototherapy, but probably not as peculiar a product as the Valkee ear buds. Visors that emit therapeutic light to ease the symptoms of depression have been on the market for quite a few years now. Essentially it’s a contraption that you wear attached to the bill of a hat which uses LEDs that shine towards your face to deliver light therapy.
They aren’t the most attractive looking gadget you will find, but the real question is whether or not they actually work or are something you should stay away from? Light visors are not nearly as popular a choice as using a SAD light box. In fact, in my research I found very few of these devices online, except for a handful on Amazon.
In 1993 a study was published from a clinical testing of light visors conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health. In this research, fifty-five patients were given the device to use. Some participants would use a rather low intensity visor that only emitted 400 LUX, while others were given another visor that put out 6000 LUX. The subjects were instructed to use the devices for 30 minutes every morning for a total of 1 week. The results were that 36% of the patients who used the low intensity visor felt a positive improvement in mood, while 56% of those who were given the 6000 LUX visor felt an improvement. The initial ruling was that it would appear that these visors both had a placebo affect on patients.
In another study carried out at the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, participants received two weeks of treatment. In this study, two devices were used. The first was a red light that only emitted 30 LUX, while other subjects used a white light that put out 600 LUX. 39% of those who used the red light and 41% of those who used the white light showed a positive response. This study was conducted in 1995 and once again showed that the effect seemed to be that of a placebo.
Although certainly more research is required to form a conclusion about the efficacy of light visors, so far it seems that they aren’t as successful of a choice when compared to therapy light boxes.
This could be do to the lower intensities of light put out by the visors and possibly because the surface area of the lights is so much smaller than light boxes. One reason some people may opt for using a visor is because of the portability of these devices. They are typically very light weight and you can use them while going about daily tasks around the house. They can, however, also be pricey. Light boxes can be expensive as well, but there are enough on the market to choose from to give you more range in cost. Plus light boxes are usually capable of delivering 10,000 LUX, which some people may require, where as visors are not capable of this.
Light visors are designed to be positioned so that the light doesn’t point directly at the eyes, which could be very bad. Instead the light is directed just above the eyes on the brow level. But again, considering the small area of light delivery, your best bet might be to investigate a light box instead.