Light Therapy in Dementia: A Comprehensive Overview

Light Therapy in Dementia: A Comprehensive Overview

Manish Sharma


According to WHO, 55 million people are grappling with the complexities of dementia worldwide. Dementia is a term used for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that hamper daily activities.  Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain. However, the most common cause is Alzheimer’s.  Although there is no standard treatment known to mankind. In the quest for effective treatments, several research studies have explored the potential of light therapy. These studies have shown promising results. However, they need to be backed with extensive clinical investigation, involving larger participant groups.

Types of Light Therapy

Bright Light Therapy

Our circadian rhythm, a biological clock regulating daily bodily processes, it regulates the cycles of alertness and sleepiness by responding to light changes in our environment. Bright light therapy, involving exposure to a light box providing 30 times more light than an average office light, has shown promising results by regulating the circadian rhythm.

Efficacy of Bright Light Therapy

Studies suggest beneficial effects, including reduced restlessness and improved sleep, especially in well-conducted research reviews. Despite positive findings, the limited number of studies and small participant groups necessitate further research.


Vielight, a Canadian biotech company, has introduced Neuro RX Gamma, a headset designed to potentially reverse dementia symptoms. This headset utilizes near-infrared light, a technique known as photobiomodulation, to alter biological processes in the brain.

Research Findings on Neuro RX Gamma

Small-scale studies in 2017 reported increased cognitive function, improved sleep, and reduced behavioral issues. A 2018 study suggested safety and potential cognitive benefits. However, conclusions can not be drawn based on the limited number of participants and the absence of a control group.

Ongoing Research

The promising results from early studies have led to a larger trial with 228 participants across the US and Canada. This trial involves six days a week, 20 minutes per day of light therapy for 12 weeks, with assessments for cognitive ability, daily activities, and quality of life for 24 weeks post-treatment. If successful, this technology could be groundbreaking as the first non-invasive, non-drug treatment for dementia symptoms.

Key Takeaways from Light Therapy Research

While research indicates potential benefits for dementia and its symptoms, it’s crucial to recognize that the field is still in its infancy. Insufficient evidence exists to recommend light therapy as a standard intervention. More comprehensive clinical studies for each type of light therapy are essential for a complete understanding of the benefits.

Light Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease

Recent studies, including a meta-analysis published in PLOS ONE, highlight the benefits of light therapy for Alzheimer’s patients. These studies, spanning from 2005 to 2022, show improvements in sleep efficiency, circadian rhythms, and reductions in depressive symptoms and agitation.

Current Treatments vs. Light Therapy for Alzheimer’s

Behavioral and psychological symptoms of Alzheimer’s are commonly treated with medications, which may have adverse effects. Light therapy emerges as a promising non-pharmacological strategy, significantly improving sleep and psychobehavioral symptoms.

Expert Opinions

Experts, including Dr. Liron Sinvani and Stella Panos, weigh in on the promising aspects of light therapy. Sinvani notes the potential of light therapy as a non-pharmacological strategy, while Panos emphasizes the need for further attention to address existing vulnerabilities in research.

The Future of Light Therapy

Despite limitations in study consistency and description, experts agree that light therapy holds promise as a non-pharmacological strategy for Alzheimer’s. Ongoing research aims to identify optimal intensity and duration for positive outcomes, marking a potential shift in dementia treatment approaches.

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