Innovation is at the heart of the healthcare sector as technology brings new tools and approaches to the table. For this reason, practitioners and healthcare providers are always looking into methods that revolutionize the way they detect and treat certain diseases.
One of these innovations is light therapy. Although controversial, this approach has been the subject of numerous studies that vouch for its effectiveness across different fields. Also known as phototherapy, this method has encouraged further research into the usefulness of artificial light in the medical sector. So far, experts have identified a number of ways in which light therapy could be applied:
- Treating seasonal affective disorder
In countries where there are extensive periods of no sunlight, seasonal affective disorder or SAD is mostly common. Weather changes and changes in the light-dark cycle are also important factors that contribute to SAD. While antidepressants are usually administered to people experiencing this mood disorder, light therapy can also provide an alternative approach.
According to an article by the Harvard Medical School, patients with SAD can be exposed to artificial light for a certain amount of time depending on how drastic the weather changes in their location. Although there has yet to be a significant link between light exposure and winter depression, light therapy can still help with optimizing the effects of medication and reduce a patient’s reliance on antidepressants.
- Cosmetic uses and applications
Aside from its supposed effects in treating depressive disorders, light therapy can also be used for cosmetic purposes like treating acne breakouts and preventing dryness in the skin. In fact, dermatologists have already approved the use of different colors of LED light to treat specific conditions. For aging skin, red light can be used to reduce wrinkles by activating the production of collagen. A lot of clinics now offer infrared sauna services for a better and increased blood circulation.
On the other hand, blue light is shown to be effective against bacteria that cause pimples and other forms of skin infections. Additionally, light therapy can also be used to prevent cold sores which are associated with hormonal changes and stress. In case you need more information about cold sores and light treatment, click here.
- Photodynamic therapy for cancer patients
Although exposure to UV rays is known to cause cancer, light is found to be effective in helping treat different types of cancer. The process is known as photodynamic therapy and it involves photosensitizing agents that react to artificial light. Drugs such as porfimer sodium and aminolevulinic acid are typically used for photodynamic therapy. Once ingested, these drugs will begin to work against cancer cells once patients are exposed to special LEDs.
However, this procedure doesn’t directly result in the elimination of cancer and doctors do not suggest using photodynamic therapy in place of chemotherapy and other treatment options. Nonetheless, using artificial light can still be a non-invasive, cost-effective, and less risky aid to existing approaches.
The future looks bright for the medical community as it doubles down on newer and safer strategies to deal with complicated cases. With light therapy, patients will have access to better quality care. There is only a need to invest more in finding other applications for this revolutionary field in healthcare.