The Acute Side Effects of Bright Light Therapy: A Placebo-Controlled Investigation

Yevgeny Botanov, Stephen S. Ilardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite the emergence of numerous clinical and non-clinical applications of bright light therapy (LT) in recent decades, the prevalence and severity of LT side effects have not yet been fully explicated. A few adverse LT effects-headache, eye strain, irritability, and nausea-have been consistently reported among depressed individuals and other psychiatric cohorts, but there exists little published evidence regarding LT side effects in non-clinical populations, who often undergo LT treatment of considerably briefer duration. Accordingly, in the present study we examined, in a randomized sample of healthy young adults, the acute side effects of exposure to a single 30-minute session of bright white light (10,000 lux) versus dim red light (< 500 lux). Across a broad range of potential side effects, repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed no significant group-by-time (Pre, Post) interactions. In other words, bright light exposure was not associated with a significantly higher incidence of any reported side effect than was the placebo control condition. Nevertheless, small but statistically significant increases in both eye strain and blurred vision were observed among both the LT and control groups. Overall, these results suggest that the relatively common occurrence of adverse side effects observed in the extant LT literature may not fully extend to non-clinical populations, especially for healthy young adults undergoing LT for a brief duration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere75893
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 24 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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