Have you ever heard the phrase fashion is cyclical? It basically means fashions from the past eventually come back around. Often adopted by members of younger generations, these blasts from the past become cool and hip once again.
Well, along with the bright neon colors, fanny packs, and shoulder pads of the 1980s, visors are also making quite the comeback — and it’s not just sun visors. Light therapy visors might just be the next big thing.
A light therapy visor may not be the fashion accessory of the season, but it could be exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to your health and wellness routine.
What Is a Light Therapy Visor?
Once you’ve decided you want to take the plunge and try out light therapy in the privacy of your own home, your next step is deciding on a portable light therapy device.
Different types of light therapy devices feature designs for specific purposes. For example, if you want to use light therapy to reduce signs of premature aging and help rejuvenate your skin, a red light therapy mask is a great option. Other at-home treatment devices are better suited for treating skin conditions like acne breakouts.
A light therapy visor is a little different. This type of product fits over your head like a sun visor and emits therapeutic light directly over your face, typically shining down from under the rim of the visor.
Visors are convenient alternatives to light therapy boxes or lamps. These types of products usually require you to face them or even stare into them to get the full benefits of the light therapy. Light therapy visors offer greater convenience, since you can wear them while doing pretty much anything at the same time.
The most common condition treated by light therapy visors is seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a kind of depression often triggered by the low light of the winter months.
Light therapy for SAD works by exposing your eyes to a spectrum of light wavelengths that closely resemble natural daylight. Most treatment sessions last between 20 and 60 minutes. Light therapy devices are most effective for SAD when used every day during the winter months, though some people continue to use light therapy throughout the year.
When researching the different types of light therapy, you may have come across information about eye protection.
According to the most recent research, eye protection is not necessary during at-home light therapy sessions unless a photosensitizing medication or health condition are involved. In fact, covering your eyes may make some types of light therapy less effective. If visual processing of the light is needed — as is the case for light therapy visors that treat SAD — then reducing or filtering the light would be counterproductive.
However, if you’re concerned or if you’re taking a photosensitizing medication, there are eye-protection products on the market that are comfortable and easy to use. In a pinch, you can even wear an ordinary pair of dark sunglasses to dampen the light.
Choosing a Light Therapy Visor
Each light therapy device will use specific wavelengths of light to help you achieve the desired results. For example, when treating issues like seasonal affective disorder, chronic fatigue, or jet lag, look for a light therapy visor that uses white and red lights, a combination that mimics daylight, which treats these conditions.
Before purchasing a light therapy visor, check the sizing and measurements of the device to ensure it will fit your head comfortably. Choose an adjustable visor that allows for multiple fits and different angles of light. Also, consider the weight of the product. If it’s too heavy or cumbersome, you’re less likely to wear the visor each day or for the full treatment time.
Make sure the power source of the visor is easily accessible for you. Light therapy devices may use a traditional power cord or batteries, and some are rechargeable. Related to the type of power source, consider the amount of recommended time per treatment session. With longer treatment sessions, for example, you may prefer not to have a power cord and opt for rechargeable or battery-powered options instead.
It’s important to choose a device with features that make it as easy as possible for you to use your light therapy visor every day.
Do Light Therapy Visors Really Work?
Many of the existing studies that have tested the effectiveness of light therapy on conditions like SAD used light boxes or lamps rather than light therapy visors. The principles of the treatment remain the same with a visor, however, as long as the correct wavelengths and strengths of light are used.
One scientific review, for example, indicated that light therapy is not only an effective treatment option for SAD, but also a potential option to ease symptoms associated with sleep disruptions and bipolar depression.
Additionally, in this small study on light therapy visors for SAD, researchers found that the intensity of the light used made no difference in the overall effectiveness of the treatments. This may indicate that intense light isn’t necessary for effective treatment with light therapy visors or other in-home SAD treatment devices.
Despite the simplicity of using a light therapy visor, always speak with your doctor before trying this type of therapy, especially for mood disorders. Light therapy must be administered at the correct times for conditions such as bipolar disorder, or there is a risk of adverse side effects.
The Effects of Light Therapy on the Eyes
Because of where light therapy visors sit, you may wonder about the effects of light therapy on your eyes.
Rest assured that the majority of medical professionals agree there is no risk to your eye health when using LED light therapy. Light therapy consistently demonstrates an excellent safety profile in peer-reviewed studies. In fact, some studies have investigated light therapy as a treatment for certain eye conditions.
However, it’s wise to exercise caution with light therapy if you have any eye condition that makes you more sensitive to light or if you’re taking medications that affect your eyes’ tolerance of bright light. If you experience any adverse symptoms from light therapy, like nausea, headaches, dizziness, eye pain, or trouble sleeping, contact your doctor before administering any further treatments.
Final Thoughts on Light Therapy Visors
A light therapy visor could be an excellent, non-invasive treatment option for seasonal affective disorder and sleep-related conditions.
There aren’t many light therapy visors currently on the market, though that may change as more and more light therapy products come out. The Feel Bright Light is one of the few still available, but reviews are mixed and the price point is relatively high compared to many similar tabletop products.
The choice you make will ultimately depend on your comfort level with trying out a relatively new type of product, your desire for mobility during treatments, and (for most people) price. If the latter is your primary concern, look for a product that offers a money-back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied with the results.