How Does Light Therapy Work?

How Does Light Therapy Work


 – Light Therapy Session: A Personalized Approach

 – What happens during a session with a professional

 – How a light therapy session works at home

 – Side effects of light therapy

 – Contraindications to light therapy

 – Vitamin D Prescription and Light Therapy: Compatible?

Medical professionals usually prescribe light therapy sessions. They can be:

 – physicians;

 – psychiatrists;

 – neurologists

 – psychologists;

 – naturopaths, for example.

These different practitioners may themselves be able to perform the sessions.

Light therapy session: a personalized approach

Light therapy is an approach that must be personalized. This is why light therapy sessions can vary from one person to another. The practitioner must take the patient’s medical history and establish a schedule with the patient according to the pathology, the expected results, and the number of sessions planned.

A whole series of parameters must be taken into account

 – the patient’s hourly and weekly constraints;

 – the year in which the patient presents (the treatment of seasonal depression will be longer if the person consults in winter);

 – whether the patient wears contact lenses or has ophthalmic pathologies.

The course of a session with a professional

How Does Light Therapy Work

A light therapy session with a professional can be done in two ways:

 – naked, lying on your back, facing the lamp;

 – in a cabin, sitting facing the lamp.

In both cases, the sessions last about half an hour. The frequency and duration of the treatment depend on the pathology and its evolution. It is the therapist who can decide, in agreement with the patient.

Please note: the professional lamp is specially designed to filter out harmful infrared and ultraviolet rays. It is, therefore, absolutely safe.

The course of a light therapy session at home

Today, it is elementary to do light therapy sessions at home.

Of course, you will need a quality light therapy lamp, which must be able to filter infrared and ultraviolet rays. All kinds of equipment exist, and you must choose the appropriate products carefully.

Duration of the session

The session duration will depend entirely on the intensity of the lamp used (the duration of exposure is inversely proportional to the lamp’s power).

If for a 10,000 lux light therapy lamp you can count on exposure of half an hour, you will need to plan for 2 hours with a 2,500 lux lamp.

Choosing the right time

The session must be adapted to the pathology.

 – For seasonal depression, the ideal is to start before the first symptoms appear, as soon as the outside light intensity decreases. Moreover, you should preferably do the sessions in the morning as soon as you wake up.

 – On the other hand, for people who fall asleep too early and wake up in the middle of the night, the session should occur in the late afternoon.

In any case, it is preferable, for maximum efficiency, to have a daily session simultaneously, if possible, in a relaxing environment.

Setting up

How Does Light Therapy Work

All you have to do is sit down, place the lamp about 50 centimeters away and point the light toward yourself. It is not necessary to look at it directly, and it is enough that this one illuminates our direction.

 – It is thus entirely possible to keep yourself busy during this time. You can write, read, watch TV, or do any other activity if you do not close your eyes during the session.

 – The advantage of home sessions is that you can resume the sessions if the effects of the treatment fade after a while.

It should be noted that dawn simulators make it possible to maintain the positive effects of light therapy sessions for a little longer.

Side effects of light therapy

Light therapy can cause a certain number of side effects in prolonged exposure. Side effects may also appear during the first few sessions and then disappear. The main ones are:

 – headaches;

 – irritability;

 – eye irritation;

– insomnia, especially when you start the treatment and are not well adjusted.

In these cases, you should try to move away from the device, which usually solves the problem. However, if the symptoms persist, it is imperative to consult a doctor.

Contraindications to light therapy

There are many contraindications to light therapy, which is why medical and ophthalmological advice is recommended before using a light therapy lamp. It is necessary to avoid using light therapy in different situations.

Taking a photosensitizing drug treatment

Many medications are responsible for photosensitization reactions, ranging from simple sunburn to dermatological reactions so severe that they require hospitalization. If you are on medication, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if it is photosensitizing before starting light therapy sessions.

Here is a list of the families of drugs that are often responsible for photosensitization

 – certain antibiotics (cyclins, sulfonamides, quinolones…);

 – certain anti-inflammatory drugs (whether taken orally or applied to the skin, such as profenes)

 – certain neuroleptics and antiepileptics (phenothiazines, carbamazepine);

 – some heart medications, acne medications, and even some eye drops…

The list is very long, so be sure to read the package inserts of your medications and ask the advice of your health professionals.

Certain psychiatric diseases

Several psychiatric diseases are also incompatible with light therapy:

 – bipolarity (formerly named manic-depressive psychosis) because the risk of triggering a manic state is high;

 – autism;

 – paranoia;

 – hysteria;

 – OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder);

 – schizophrenia;

 – ophthalmic diseases:

 ◦ AMD (age-related macular degeneration);

 ◦ cataract;

 ◦ conjunctivitis;

 ◦ glaucoma;

 ◦ herpes;

 ◦ retinal lesions;

 ◦ stye;

 ◦ retinopathy;

 ◦ uveitis.

Vitamin D prescription and light therapy: compatible?

Thanks to the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB), our skin manufactures more than 90% of our vitamin D needs. Light therapy lamps that are medically certified do not produce UV or infrared (IR), so no vitamin D is produced if you are exposed to them.

Light therapy lamps that are NOT medically certified produce UVB at low doses, according to current standards. The amount of vitamin D produced is anecdotal and would certainly not reach toxic doses if combined with oral vitamin D supplementation: overdoses of this vitamin are very rare.

When a doctor prescribes vitamin D, he or she follows a blood test and regularly monitors the vitamin level through other blood tests. When prescribing vitamin D, the doctor does not tell you to avoid walking in the sun or stop eating oily fish because there is a risk of overdosing with the treatment. It is the same with these non-medically certified light therapy lamps.

Vitamin D can therefore be taken during light therapy sessions. It is advisable to use medically certified lamps and monitor your vitamin D levels generally with your doctor.

Light therapy can be used to treat insomnia due to phase delay. Light therapy acts on other hormones, such as melatonin, thanks to our optical cells. The lamp must be reasonably far from the face to stimulate these cells.

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