By Rajnish Mago, MD (bio)
Bright light therapy is an important treatment modality in mental health but is underutilized. To help clinicians with using bright light therapy appropriately, on other pages on this website, we have discussed exactly how bright light therapy should be done (see Related Pages below).
We have also discussed in detail on other pages (see Related Pages below) the criteria for deciding which bright light devices to recommend and have made specific recommendations about both larger and smaller lightboxes.
Please also see the following article on this website:
In that article, we discussed reasons why we may sometimes consider recommending a wearable bright light therapy device.
Please also see:
In that article, we noted that, as of November 2021, wearable (e.g., visor) devices for bright light therapy have not been shown in controlled clinical trials to be efficacious. So, for now, we generally do not recommend their use. But,
If a wearable device is used, it makes sense to at least use one that has been evaluated to some extent in research studies. On this page, we’ll look at the following specific wearable bright light therapy devices:
– Visor devices (Feel Bright light and SolarMax Light Visor)
If a visor device is used, here are two visor devices whose physical characteristics were evaluated in a systematic study (Oldham et al., 2019).
1. Feel Bright light (https://feelbrightlight.com). This LED-based visor device was found in an independent study to provide light of 8900 lux intensity when used as directed (Oldham et al., 2019). Their “deluxe” model costs $179 (with free shipping) as of November 2021, but lower-priced versions are available as well.
2. SolarMax Light Visor (www.biobrite.com). This LED-based visor device was found in an independent study to provide light of 5900 lux intensity when used as directed (Oldham et al., 2019).
This device is available on the manufacturer’s website for $180 (as of November 2021). It was available on Amazon.com for $149 at the links below but is currently unavailable on amazon.com as of November 2021.
Tip on using a bright light therapy visor:
Visor devices tend to have a glare (Oldham et al., 2019). So, it has been suggested that if a patient is using a visor device for bright light therapy, we should tell the patient to check in a mirror that the visor has been positioned correctly on the head because, otherwise, patients “are likely to” try to reduce glare from the visor device by positioning it inappropriately (Oldham et al., 2019).
Some clinical trials have used a wearable, LED-based bright light therapy device called Re-Timer® (https://www.re-timer.com) that was developed in Australia (e.g., Zalta et al., 2019; Swanson et al., 2018).
The device is worn like a pair of glasses (eyewear) and has green-blue LED lights on the inside. To me, it looks like something from the future :-). See the image below.
The device is supposed to be used for 60 minutes per day. As of November 2021, it costs $199 but a 20% off coupon is available.
Does Re-Timer® work?
The Re-Timer® device has been tested in small clinical trials (Zalta et al., 2019; Swanson et al., 2018). These clinical trials did not involve any financial conflict of interest and were not funded by the manufacturer of Re-Timer®.
But, we should understand that these clinical trials had small numbers of participants and were only pilot studies showing that this device was acceptable to patients and deserves to be studied further. They do not show conclusively that the device is more efficacious than a control condition.
(Only for those who may be interested in reading further, the manufacturer’s website briefly describes other research studies that were done using the Re-Timer® device—Research from the inventors and Other research studies.)
Potential side effects of Re-Timer®
As with other wearable bright light therapy devices, light from the Re-Timer device can be bothersome to the eyes and can lead to headache or eye irritation though these side effects tend to be mild (Lovato and Lack, 2015).
Luminette® is a wearable LED-based bright light therapy device developed in Belgium. It is worn like eyeglasses (spectacles) within which are LED lights that emit blue-enriched white light. The light comes downwards towards the eyes.
(Photo courtesy of the manufacturer)
Does Luminette® work?
As of November 2021, I am unaware of any controlled clinical trial of the Luminette® device for the treatment of major depressive disorder or bipolar depression. There is an ongoing (as of May 2021) controlled clinical trial using the Luminette® device for major depressive disorder (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03685942). An open-label study with depressed adolescent inpatients suggested that Luminette® seems to work for depression (Kirschbaum-Lesch et al., 2018), but without a control group, we can’t be sure.
And, there are studies with this device in conditions other than mood disorders that have been published, many of them in top journals.
– A study in healthy participants demonstrated that, compared to a control group, use of the Luminette® device by healthy participants in the late evening led to suppression of melatonin secretion, the expected effect (Schmidt et al., 2018).
– One small, crossover study found that, compared to the control group, using Luminette® improved alertness, cognition, and mood after a night of sleep deprivation (Comtet et al., 2019).
– A small study found that, compared to orange (placebo) light, bright light using Luminette® improved cognitive flexibility (task switching) in the post-lunch afternoon period (Slama et al., 2015).
– A small, single-blind clinical trial suggested that bright light therapy using the Luminette® device worked for delayed sleep phase syndrome in adolescents (Langevin et al., 2014).
– A cross-over clinical trial for depression, anxiety, and sleepiness in persons with Parkinson’s disease did not lead to statistically significant findings except in persons with high daytime sleepiness scores (Raymackers et al., 2019).
Simple and Practical Medical Education, LLC, and Rajnish Mago, MD, do NOT have any relationship, financial or otherwise, with the manufacturer of any of the wearable bright light therapy devices discussed in this article.
The links above, to Amazon.com, are Amazon affiliate links. Buying products from Amazon.com using links on this website helps to support this website at no additional cost to the purchaser. But, we still want to be fully transparent about this.
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