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Alexander Wunsch in English

Photobiology, Light, Colors and Health.

Potential relevance of near infrared radiation for ocular and dermal health

Oral presentation by Alexander Wunsch
Place: LICHT 2016, Karlsruhe, Germany.
Date: September 26th 2016.
Duration: 18:15 min.

The current focussing on energy efficient lighting led to the development of non-thermal light sources, with the LED leading the way. In contrast to all relevant natural light sources, LEDs for general lighting purposes provide almost zero emission in the spectral range longer than 700 nm. In contrast, sunlight emits more than 40 % in the near infrared region between 700 nm and 1400 nm. Although near infrared radiation (NIR) is invisible by definition, it contributes to wound healing and cellular regeneration processes in human tissue. Since near infrared radiation reaches the retina without significant attenuation by ocular tissue, it might foster retinal regeneration processes.

Status Quo
Wavelengths between 600 nm and 1400 nm have significant impact on cellular energy levels, proliferation, differentiation and motility in microbiological trials. In clinical studies in animals and man, NIR promotes wound healing, tissue regeneration and even healing of retinal damage and an increasing role in regenerative photomedicine. In contrast, beneficial effects of NIR on ocular health are not sufficiently addressed and even ignored by CIE, ICNIRP and lighting industry.

Exposure to ultraviolet and high energy visible radiation induces cellular stress and free radical formation in human tissue, which is particularly important for continuously exposed organs like eyes and skin. The role of NIR for photoprevention and alleviation of light induced tissue stress and damage is discussed.

A comprehensive literature search in medical databases was executed and the results were evaluated for relevance. 

A growing body of publications in the medical field support the hypothesis that long wavelength radiation in the spectral range between 600 nm and 1000 nm can make a significant contribution to tissue regeneration and repair. The supportive role of this spectral range requires further investigation especially for eye and skin.

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