Can exposure to 670nm infra-red light improve retinal function and structure?
BUS is delighted to announce forthcoming research into a novel treatment for birdshot which is being trialled at Moorfields Eyes Hospital. The Director of Medical Retina and Uveitis, consultant Carlos Pavesio, the lead researcher, will be investigating whether using a particular wavelength of light will reduce inflammation in the eye and improve retinal function and structure in birdshot uveitis.
Please note, that before everybody rushes forward to volunteer, the patients selected from Carlos Pavesio’s clinic will be invited to participate in this research only if they fulfil the necessary criteria, and initially, only 10 to 12 patients will be required. His research team aims to study the effects of 670nm infra-red light treatment on patients with ‘grumbling’ birdshot disease, with their signs of inflammation continuing to be treated with medication throughout the trial.
Funding for the project
Half of the money for this research proposal was raised by birdshot walkers on the 2012 Fight for Sight ‘Carrots Night Walk’. We are collaborating with Fight for Sight, the main UK charity dedicated to funding eye research to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease, who have matched our fundraising to help pay for this novel piece of research via their jointly funded Small Grant Awards programme.
Birdshot is an eye disease with no known involvement of other parts of the body. Because of this, effective treatment directed just to the eyes would be a big step forward.
670nm infra-red is a part of the natural light spectrum. The energy levels and wavelength of the 670nm light used in the study are lower than those of indirect light on a spring morning. This light wavelength is also emitted from conventional light bulbs, but it is absent from strip lights and also absent from all the new low energy eco-friendly domestic light bulbs.
Study patients will receive 670nm light treatment from a specially-designed light. Treatments will be given on weekdays for two weeks for a total of ten treatments. Each light treatment lasts one minute. Only one eye per patient will be treated but the other eye will be observed as a ‘control’ for comparison.
In active birdshot uveitis, there is a measurable delay in response to the 30Hz ERG flicker test stimulus, so before the first light treatment for each patient in the trial, a baseline comprehensive ERG will be done. During the trial, patients will be given further ERGs before and after each light treatment, and these ERGs will be performed with a hand-held ERG device (RETeval) where the electrodes are placed on the skin under the eye. These pre- and post-treatment ERGs will check if the light treatment has improved the ERG response.
It will take no more than two minutes to do the study ERG tests, and the eyes do not have to be dilated. The ERG results will be immediately available, so the clinicians will quickly know if there are any improvements in the eyes.
Depending on the results of this small trial, the researchers aim to run a larger study over a longer period of time to assess the usefulness of this special light therapy as a treatment option for birdshot.
This project combines the skills of the medical retina department at Moorfields Eye Hospital with the experience of using this therapy in the laboratory environment of the Institute of Ophthalmology. Both places are world leaders in addressing ophthalmic problems.
Here’s to success with this study. We will be very interested to hear how the project progresses.