Light therapy is a treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which may contribute to depression in some people. People with SAD feel more depressed in fall and winter, when there is less daylight.
What does it involve?
Light therapy involves exposure to a light box each morning. Exposure should last 20 to 30 minutes, and the light box should be positioned 16 to 24 inches from the face. During light therapy, you should keep your eyes open, but do not gaze directly at the light. You may read or perform another activity during light therapy.
Light boxes come in many styles and light intensities and fall within a wide price range. Some light boxes are designed with special features to protect the eyes. To be safest, choose a light box that filters out most or all ultraviolet (UV) light. Different styles of light box may be more or less effective for each individual.
Light therapy is considered a safe and effective treatment for those with depression linked to SAD.
Light boxes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety or effectiveness.
If a light box is too bright or does not filter out UV light, it can damage your eyes.
Those with eye conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma need to take extra care in using light therapy.
Light therapy may not be effective for everyone with SAD.
Health insurance may not reimburse the cost of a light therapy box.
For more information, visit:
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – Mayo Clinic
Bright Lights, Big Relief – American Psychological Association
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