Eye Health

Updated 17 July 2020

Staring into a deep red light could improve eyesight, study finds

People with ailing eyesight could turn to this newfound remedy for better vision.

  • A new study from University London College have proven that staring into a deep red light can improve ailing eyesight. 
  • While it improved the eyesight of those over 40 years of age, it didn't have an effect on younger participants.
  • The treatment is also very cost-effective and can easily be done at home. 

A new revolutionary method could signal the dawn of reversing the effect of ageing on eyesight - with a coloured light. 

The discovery was made by researchers from University College London who published their findings in The Journals of Gerontology, who found that shining a deep red light into a human eye for three minutes a day could significantly improve their eyesight. 

READ: Thousands could lose their eyesight due to lack of funding for cataract surgery in SA

This an especially vital finding for humans getting on in their years - as we age our eyesight get progressively worse over time.

Rebooting the retina

"Mitochondria influence the pace of ageing as the energy they provide for cellular function in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) declines with age," writes the researchers. 

This in turn influences our photoreceptors - which responds to light and in charge of how we perceive colours. Compared to the rest of the organs in our bodies, our eyes age a lot faster. 

The mitochondria has the ability to absorb certain light sources - the longer the wavelength the better the mitochondria performs and releases more energy. Basically, the retina is rebooted. 

ALSO READ: Secondhand smoke may harm kids' eyes 

First study on humans

Previous studies on the use of the red light was performed on bumblebees, mice and fruit flies, but this was the first study performed on humans. 

They recruited 24 people for the study, aged between 28 and 72 years - all of which had no diagnosed ocular issues. They went through a series of tests to see how well they can see - including seeing in the dark - before and after shining a small 670nm LED red torch in their eyes for three minutes a day for two weeks. 

No change in younger participants

While the younger participants showed no difference, participants over the age of 40 improved their eyesight considerably. They improved their ability to see colours by 20%, especially the colour blue.

Their dark-vision also improved to some extent. 

The scientists believe this is cost-effective intervention to help improve eyesight, which can easily be done at home with limited costs for the light torches. 

READ: Many seniors think they see better than they actually do


Ask the Expert


Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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