Infrared light ‘stops eye damage’

PTI | | Updated on: May 14, 2012

People with careers that expose them to bright or artificial light, such as construction workers, fishermen, welders or actors, could be pre-treated with infrared light to reduce vision damage, say researchers.

A team at Australia’s Vision Centre has found that treating eyes with gentle infrared light can help prevent the damage caused by subsequent exposure to bright light.

In their research, the researchers have shown that pre-treatment with near infrared light prevents a build-up of scar tissue in the retina causing subsequent harm to sight.

There’s a group of cells that look after our vision and work behind the scenes called Muller cells. They act to protect the retina by clearing toxins and inducing healing whenever there is injury to the vision cells.

However, their protection is a double-edge sword for the eyes. When the retina comes under extreme stress, as when it is exposed to intensely bright light and loses a large number of vision cells, the Muller cells can overreact by multiplying and forming scar tissue behind the retina.

“We found that the treatment with mild NIR successfully inhibits the Muller cells from multiplying and forming scar tissue,” the researchers said in a release.

Team leader Dr Krisztina Valter added: “Technically, our results showed that 670 nm light pre-treatment ameliorates light induced changes in the expression of Muller-cell specific markers for structure, stress, metabolism and inflammation.

“Our findings indicate that it may be possible to pre-treat someone who knows that they will be exposed to bright lights and so reduce the potential damage it can cause.”

Published on May 14, 2012
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