Researchers recommend light without blue wavelengths for bipolar patients

Following an extensive review of the research on chronotherapy, an international group of 27 researchers are now recommending so called “dark therapy” for patients with bipolar disorders. Glamox has developed lighting solutions that can be used to create an artificial darkness that allows the patients to see and carry out normal activities.

Bipolar disorder is a major mood disorder that is characterized by manic and depressive symptoms which fluctuate in severity over time. In the report “The chronotherapeutic treatment of bipolar disorders: A systematic review and practice recommendations from the ISBD task force on chronotherapy and chronobiology” 27 researchers have reviewed the literature on the efficacy and tolerability of the major chronotherapeutic treatments of bipolar disorders. Chronotherapeutic treatment are treatments which are thought to act on the central biological clock. 

“Dark therapy”
Based on the review, one of the recommendations from the researchers is to use so called dark therapy to relieve the symptoms of mania.  Contrary to what the term indicates, modern dark therapy is not about treating patients in a dark room. Rather it’s about creating a virtual darkness in which the patients can function normally, but which doesn’t have the blue wavelengths that seem to have a negative effect on this patient group. Glamox has in recent years been in the forefront developed lighting solutions to support this kind of therapy.

From orange glasses to novel lighting solution
One of the studies that dealt with dark therapy was carried out by the Norwegian psychiatrist and PhD Candidate Tone Elise Gjøtterud Henriksen. Henriksen’s study investigated the use of orange glasses that blocks out the blue wavelengths of the light. She believes that the blue wavelengths contribute to prolonging manic episodes. The use of the orange glasses turned out to significantly reduce the manic symptoms of the patients participating in the study and in a shorter time than medication. 

The result from this study formed the basis for a novel lighting solution supplied by Glamox to St. Olav’s University Hospital in Trondheim. The solution makes it possible to produce light without blue wavelengths. It is now in use at St. Olav University Hosptial’s new psychiatric clinic at Østmarka where it enables doctors to use “blue-blocked” light as part of the treatment of patients with bipolar and circadian phase disorders. This solution is also mentioned in the review: “Alternatively, a dynamic LED light system can be installed in a hospital unit and be used to create a blue‐depleted evening light environment similar to a “virtual darkness.” Indeed, a RCT to test the effectiveness of such an evening blue‐depleted light environment is underway in a psychiatric emergency ward.”

Bright Light Therapy
Another treatment that is recommended by the researchers is bright light therapy. Bright light therapy typically exposes the patient for light of a high lux level, within a certain colour spectrum over a given amount of time and on a regular basis. At St’ Olav’s psychiatric clinic at Østmarka Glamox has also supplied the lighting for a designated bright light therapy room.  

The basic science of chronobiology is the study of biological rhythms, biological timekeeping systems and their effects on human health and disease. (Source: Turek FW, Zee PC. Section 5: Chronobiology. In: Kryger MH, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2011:340-423