Light therapy: Is it safe for the eyes?

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Abstract

Objective: Light therapy has become an increasingly popular treatment for depression and a range of other neuropsychiatric conditions. Yet, concerns have been raised about the ocular safety of light therapy. Method: We conducted the first systematic review into the ocular safety of light therapy. A PubMed search on January 4, 2017, identified 6708 articles, of which 161 were full-text reviewed. In total, 43 articles reporting on ocular complaints and ocular examinations were included in the analyses. Results: Ocular complaints, including ocular discomfort and vision problems, were reported in about 0% to 45% of the participants of studies involving light therapy. Based on individual studies, no evident relationship between the occurrence of complaints and light therapy dose was found. There was no evidence for ocular damage due to light therapy, with the exception of one case report that documented the development of a maculopathy in a person treated with the photosensitizing antidepressant clomipramine. Conclusion: Results suggest that light therapy is safe for the eyes in physically healthy, unmedicated persons. The ocular safety of light therapy in persons with preexisting ocular abnormalities or increased photosensitivity warrants further study. However, theoretical considerations do not substantiate stringent ocular safety-related contraindications for light therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136(6)
Pages (from-to)534-548
Number of pages15
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavia
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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