Light Therapy Safety and Side Effects

Ultraviolet light causes progressive damage to human skin. This is mediated by genetic damage, collagen damage, as well as destruction of vitamin A and vitamin C in the skin and free radical generation.

Researchers have questioned whether limiting blue light exposure could reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Modern phototherapy lamps used in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder and sleep disorders either filter out or do not emit ultraviolet light and are considered safe and effective for the intended purpose, as long as photosensitizing drugs are not being taken at the same time and in the absence of any existing eye conditions.

Light therapy is a mood altering treatment, and just as with drug treatments, there is a possibility of triggering a manic state from a depressive state, causing anxiety and other side effects.

While these side-effects are usually controllable, it is recommended that patients undertake light-therapy under the supervision of an experienced clinician, rather than attempting to self-medicate.

It is reported that bright light therapy may activate the production of reproductive hormones, such as testosterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and estradiol.

There are few absolute contraindications to light therapy, although there are some circumstances in which caution is required.

These include when a patient has a condition that might render his or her eyes more vulnerable to phototoxicity, has a tendency toward mania, has a photosensitive skin condition, or is taking a photosensitizing herb (such as St. John's wort) or medication.

Patients with porphyria should avoid most forms of light therapy. Patients on certain drugs like methotrexate or chloroquine should use caution with light therapy as there is a chance that these drugs could cause porphyria.

Side effects

Side effects of light therapy for sleep phase disorders include jumpiness or jitteriness, headache, and nausea. Some nondepressive physical complaints (such as poor vision and skin rash or irritation) may improve with light therapy.

Further Reading

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Light therapy" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Feb 16, 2014

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  1. Victoria Girard Victoria Girard United States says:

    Red light therapy is really a fascinating technology.  It's really astounding how many conditions it helps with and the fact that you can do it at home just sweetens the pot.  There are countless studies on how effective this therapy is.  It seems as though the more you read about it the better it gets.

    • Meital James Meital James Israel says:

      Red light therapy (and infrared too) works great for all skin conditions, anti-aging, scarring, and of course drug-free pain relief.

  2. Barbara Cobb Barbara Cobb United States says:

    I say put me in a lounge chair next to the pool with a large golden margarita in my hand in the tropics in a safe and friendly place. Anyone with me.

  3. Meital James Meital James Israel says:

    For most people, red light therapy is completely safe, and the only risk from a home device is from dropping it on your foot.
    I have 2 red light therapy skin rejuvenating devices and I'm in love with them. No botix or surgeries for me!

  4. Sofia Vega Sofia Vega United States says:

    can red light therapy act as oppose to somebody!? i have a tanning bed with 14 red light bulbs and two tan bulbs, i used for two months every other day for 20minutes each time after two months i wear shorts and my legs skin looks very saggy! can red light works as oppose for some people!?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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