- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A company in Australia is manufacturing a portable way of receiving light therapy, a popular way to fight off the winter blues.

Re-Timer light glasses can fit over eyeglasses. The lightweight white plastic glasses shine a subtle green light into the photoreceptors of eyes.

Wearing them for 20 to 30 minutes per day or a couple of mornings per week is believed to help with variety of issues related to the body clock, including jet lag, insomnia and seasonal affective disorder, according to Ben Olsen, managing director of Re-Time, the company that makes the glasses.

“We use a green light because we found it to be the most effective,” Olsen said. “If we were to put red light in the glasses, it wouldn’t do anything.”

The glasses work by exposing light to cells in the eye that detect bright light. It reportedly signals the brain to be awake and alert.

Researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, developed the glasses, Olsen said. The university is one of the main shareholders in the company.

The product has been on the market for almost three years, and Olsen said the United States “is one of our best markets.”

The light glasses cost $299, including shipping, and come with a travel case. They are powered by a battery that is recharged through a USB port.

About 80 percent of the glasses sold by Re-Time are exported, Olsen said.

A handful of seasonal effective disorder treatment providers in Fairbanks were contacted. Most said they hadn’t heard of the technology or that more testing is needed before they would prescribe the light therapy glasses.

Dr. Joshua Sonkiss is a psychiatrist in Fairbanks. He said he looked into the light glasses, but he still isn’t sure whether shining a green light in the eyes is the best treatment for a mood disorder.

Sonkiss recommends traditional desk lights because “the technology has been around a long time.”

“It’s a known quantity,” he said.

“The glasses might work,” Sonkiss said. “Winter blues runs a spectrum from feeling crummy in the dark months to real clinical depression with suicide risk. In good conscience, I feel like I need to recommend things that are as evidenced as I can.”

Olsen said the light therapy glasses have been tested at the Sleep Laboratories at Flinders University. The glasses were developed by Dr. Leon Lack and Dr. Helen Wright, who are sleep clinicians.

Lack is a leading researcher of behavioral management of insomnia and has conducted research in sleep, circadian rhythms and insomnia for more than 30 years.

Wright has co-written a book about sleep and how to improve sleep and daytime functioning.

According to Re-Time company literature, the green light has been shown to produce the same treatment effect as white light.

The company also states that lenses on the eyes become cloudy and yellow with age, restricting blue light from entering the eye.

“Since most white light devices rely on blue wavelengths to reduce winter blues symptoms, green light is considered to be a superior treatment option in older populations,” the company literature states.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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