Light Visors – Do They Actually Work?

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.


New Earbuds Fight Winter Blues?

The Valkee 2 is designed to transmit light therapy through the ear canal.

The Valkee 2 is designed to transmit light therapy through the ear canal.

Could this be the strangest product yet? A company based out of Finland developed the first ever bright light headset called the Valkee NPT 1000 and have released their 2nd version of this interesting take on light therapy.

Based on research at Finland’s Oulu University, the device is designed with two LED ear buds that transmit light through the ear canals in order to reach light-sensitive parts of the brain.

These aren’t actually like headphones, because you can’t use them to listen to music with, but they could provide a convenient way for people to receive the light they need; especially during the more difficult times of the year.

Unlike conventional light boxes, the Valkee only requires quick, 12 minute sessions to work and is completely portable. Plus with an 87% user recommendation, it’s certainly something to take notice of.

The Valkee 2 is made from extremely durable aluminum, fits easily in your pocket so you can take it anywhere with you, has a 2 week battery life and can be charged with a USB cable. The makers also claim that it can be used to boost cognitive performance and synchronize your biological clock.

Using the Valkee is also as simple as the developers wanted it to be. The light up circle on the front of the device tells you how much battery life you have and illustrates how far you are into your 12 minute light therapy session.

Although it still has yet to be determined how affective the device will be on a larger scale, 92% of participants in a research study at Oulu University experienced an increase in energy and a positive climb in their mood. That’s right. 9 out of every 10 test subjects used the device for 8 – 12 minutes a day, every day for a full 4 weeks and experienced promising results.

Traditional light boxes are great and are still the current recommendation amongst medical professionals, but they do require longer term session usage of 30 – 45 minutes on average. The Valkee’s main marketing angle is that you only need to use it for 12 minutes and because it can be taken with you; you can actually travel with it.

Although there are still many that are skeptical, this could still work. Your eyes are the part that need the light to boost mood. The brain has photosensitive receptors that require this light. The eyes are just an entry point for the light to get there. The Valkee is designed to supply the light through the ear canal, which is a super-thin part of the skull. This could be a more direct and intelligent method for receiving phototherapy for the user.

To learn more about Valkee, you can visit their official website here.


How Does Phototherapy Work?

Phototherapy, or traditionally referred to as “heliotherapy”; is the treatment of certain conditions using light exposure. It is more common to use phototherapy as a treatment option for certain conditions such as depression and psoriasis (a skin condition that causes redness and irritation).

Using special light boxes, a person can administer phototherapy to themselves for a set amount of days and  weeks. This therapy is usually conducted in the morning hours, because the light from these lamps can be too stimulating and interfere with sleep cycles.

Phototherapy is quite beneficial to those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD may be a direct cause of the shorter days and hours of sunlight during the Fall and Winter months. With light boxes that are utilized in phototherapy, the cells in the retina of the eyes are stimulated. These same cells have connections to the hypothalamus, which is a section of the brain that is responsible for the circadian rhythm.

It is believed that a person who is exposed to emulated sunlight for an ample amount of minutes each day may experience a change in mood and outlook. SAD lamps as they are often times referred to typically put out 10,000 lux in light. Lux is a measurement of light. On a normal, sunny day a person can experience the natural benefits of 50,000 lux of light just from the sun.

Normal light bulbs that are used around the house produce an estimated 100 lux of light. Using a phototherapy light indoors for improving a depressive state of mind and emotions is quite a significant step forward. The bulbs used around the house are simply not enough to convince the body that we are in sun light. However, SAD lamps can produce enough harmless light to keep the circadian rhythm on track; prevent the feeling of lethargy and keep a positive mood on track.

What You Should Know About Phototherapy

Although phototherapy with the use of light boxes can be very beneficial to some people, it isn’t always appropriate a solution for everyone. Those who are bipolar or have diabetes should talk with their family doctor first before considering this as an option.

Those who are bipolar may experience mania that is brought on by the stimulation of the light in doors. Diabetes can affect the retina. Even though SAD lamps are generally regarded as not producing damaging light to the eyes, if you have diabetes you should talk with your doctor first before attempting phototherapy.

Phototherapy light boxes are not approved by the FDA. The affects of light treatment and how it actually works to improve something like depression is still a matter of study, but a lot of people feel that light box therapy is beneficial to their state.