Light is essential to the life of plants and animals.
As our planet revolves around the sun, all life on earth is sustained by sunlight. The Greeks were the first to document their use of phototherapy. Today, light is used on a variety of disorders from the “bili” lights used on jaundiced newborns to the more recent psychiatric use of white light for treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
In optometry, the use of specific light frequencies to treat visual dysfunctions is called Optometric Phototherapy.
This clinical application deals with the ocular science of the effects of selected light frequencies presented through the eyes. It has been used therapeutically in optometry for about eight decades, with continued success in the treatment of many visual dysfunctions, including the treatment of brain injuries and emotional disorders.
Interest in the effect of light on the body intensified early in the 20th century. Most of the current therapeutic techniques used are based on the work done by Dr. Harry Riley Spitler in the 1920s and 1930s. Dr. Spitler, who had both optometric and medical degrees, began researching and using phototherapy in 1909. Spitler, the author of “The Syntonic Principle”, conceived the principles for a new science that he called “Syntonics”. Syntonics, from the word syntony (to bring into balance), refers physiologically to a balanced, integrated nervous system.
Certain biochemical conditions need to be present in our brains before effective neuroplasticity and new cortical functions can occur. Neurotransmitters trigger this biochemistry and allow for additional synoptic connections to initiate movement and growth in new directions. Colored light therapy can act as a powerful tool to stimulate the biochemistry of the brain through the visual system by way of the retinal-hypothalmus brain connection.
One very valuable effect of Optometric Phototherapy is that it can help to balance the Autonomic Nervous System, which often gets ‘knocked’ out of balance when there is a Traumatic Brain Injury. The Autonomic Nervous System is comprised of two different systems: the Parasympathetic Nervous System and the Sympathetic Nervous System.
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) controls homeostasis and the body at rest and is responsible for the body’s “rest and digest” functionThis involves longer neural pathways and a slower system, restoring the body to a state of calm. Muscles relax, pupils constrict, the heart rate slows, food is digested and toxins are released when this system is functional.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) controls the body’s responses to a perceived threat and is responsible for the “fight or flight” response when it is threatened or in danger. This involves short neural pathways and a faster system. The body speeds up, tenses up, becomes more alert. Functions not critical to survival shut down. Pupils dilate, muscles constrict, heart rate speeds up, adrenaline is released, the gastrointestinal system becomes inactive, and toxins do not release through the urinary or intestinal tract.
The ideal state of the body is when both the PNS and the ANS are working in balance, with the energy and rest/healing metabolisms working equally well.
At Hope Clinic, we are implementing Optometric Phototherapy via the use of home light units as an adjunct to other vision therapy home protocols. Dr. Kadet determines whether the use of Optometric Phototherapy is right for each patient based on individual diagnoses, symptoms and the patient’s ability to follow the procedures precisely.