Columbia University Medical Center
Ranked #1 in Psychiatry
U.S. News & World Report
Ranked #1 in Research Funding
National Institutes of Health
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

Ask the Experts

Question:

Is blue light therapy is as effective as 10,000 lux white light in the treatment of depression?

Also, are there any commercial products that you could recommend?

Answered by: Michael Terman

Blue light therapy has been commercially hyped as superior to broad-spectrum white light therapy -- but there is no evidence to support this. In fact, the action of short-wavelength blue light depends on coordinated action with longer wavelengths of light contained in the white spectrum. There are also drawbacks to narrow-band blue exposure: it creates aversive glare, it degrades visual acuity, and in the long term it presents a potential hazard to the health of retinal photoreceptors. (It is indeed contraindicated for those with, or at risk for, age-related macular degeneration.)

It is best to use clinically established and safe white light. See Criteria for Light Box Selection on the THERAPY page at www.cet.org.