Light therapy is a treatment method, in which the patient is exposed to intense light. The light is much brighter than normal artificial light, but not as bright as outdoors on a summer day. The light comes in through the eyes. The brain probably use this signal to better regulate day and night rhythm.
Light therapy is based on the healing effect of light. Light influences our biological clock. The biological clock ensures that bodily functions, such as heart rate, state of mind and sleep-wake rhythm, function properly. With light therapy, the biological clock is influenced in a positive way, by exposing the eyes to a special light therapy lamp, which has a high luminous intensity.
Light therapy is used for various mental illnesses and skin conditions, for example:
- (Winter) depression.
- Sleep problems.
The patient takes a seat behind the light therapy device. During the exposure to light, he or she may watch TV, read or use the computer, provided that the light reaches the eyes. Depending on the personal situation, the doctor may also prescribe that the patient should be seated longer or shorter behind the lamp. The distance to the light therapy device can also vary.
Two types of light therapy can be chosen: light therapy with UVB light or UVA light. Natural sunlight is composed of both UVB and UVA light, only UVA is less strong than UVB. Therefore, UVA light therapy is always used in combination with the drug psoralen. This drug ensures that the skin is better able to absorb the UVA rays. This form of light therapy is also called PUVA.
A light therapy treatment is always a course and therefore includes multiple sessions. The duration of a session and the number of sessions a person needs depend, among other things, on the condition for which he or she is treated. Light therapy can be done in the hospital or at home.
Light therapy has minimal side effects, which in addition rarely occur. The most important are headache, fatigue, dry or watery eyes and redness of the face. These symptoms generally decrease after a few days and then disappear completely.