DIY Glasses Aim To Improve Color Vision

Typically, to improve one’s eyesight, we look to tools like corrective lenses or laser eye surgery to improve optical performance. However, [Casey Connor 2] came across another method, that uses light exposure to improve color vision, and set about trying to achieve the same results at home. 

A recent study published in Nature showed that a single exposure to 670 nm light for 3 minutes lead to an improvement in color perception lasting up to a week. The causative method is that cones in the eye get worse at producing ATP as we age, and with less of this crucial molecule supplying energy to cells in the eye, our colour perception declines. Exposure to 670 nm light seems to cause mitochondria in the eye to produce more ATP in a rather complicated physical interaction.

For [Casey’s] build, LEDs were used to produce the required 670 nm red light, installed into ping pong balls that were glued onto a pair of sunglasses. After calculating the right exposure level and blasting light into the eyes regularly each morning, [Casey] plans on running a chromaticity test in the evenings with a custom Python script to measure color perception.

[Casey] shows a proper understanding of the scientific process, and has accounted for the cheap monitor and equipment used in the testing. The expectation is that it should be possible to show a relative positive or negative drift, even if the results may not be directly comparable to industry-grade measures.

We’re eager to see the results of [Casey]’s testing, and might even be tempted to replicate the experiment if it proves successful. We’ve explored some ocular topics in the past too, like the technology that goes into eyeglasses. Video after the break.

27 thoughts on “DIY Glasses Aim To Improve Color Vision

  1. Welp, that was a waste of time.
    He describes the test done in the paper, the modified criteria and test parameters, but no results.
    This boils down to “I made this thing to repeat a test” without results, it is meaningless.

    1. Yes! Almost what I was thinking (except I was going with the sunset). Proof that we’re supposed to be outdoors a lot more instead of sitting in front of our square screens.

      Interesting – I heard a similar study about a year ago, and even some totally unnecessary “products” designed to produce the right wavelength of light. Who needs a “product” when you’re a maker, or the sun still works.

    2. The authors of the paper point out that while longer wavelengths may boost mitochondrial activity, shorter ones reduce it, so sunlight may just balance out.

      That said, dark red sunglasses may do the trick…

  2. Didn’t watch the video, TL/DW, so do you have to keep your eyes open for 3 minutes or can you keep them closed? If closed would the lids change the results? Also this sounds like a great scam… I mean service for a high class spa. $50 for 3 minutes for “Eye colour health” treatment.

  3. I’ve been looking into this exact effect for the last 6 weeks or so.

    I had a visual defect and the eye doctor took an MRI diagnosed as an edema (swelling, fluid bump) behind the retina, and had me come back in 6 weeks (which was last Monday). Since I knew he would be taking a 2nd MRI, I started using red light therapy to see if it would have any effect.

    There are 2 wavelengths used for this type of treatment, red and infrared. The wavelengths apparently interface with the body to generate tiny amounts of nitric acid, which is used as a regeneration signal by the body. (This is a different explanation from the video, might be the same explanation but a different part of the interaction, may be guesswork on the researchers.)

    The dosing follows an “inverted-U” curve, meaning: using too little light has no effect, while using too much light also has no effect. You need to adjust your system to provide the correct energy dose for optimal effect. Optimal is about 1Joule/cm^2 each treatment, divide by treatment length (1 minute in my case, 60 seconds) gives the power needed for treatment.

    Rather than calculate and estimate the power output of the LEDs, simply measure it. There are solar power meters available online for not too much money that will measure the power directly in W/M^2, divide out to get the units you need.

    In my case I was able to reduce the defect by more than 2/3, and the MRI showed no edema on the 2nd visit.

    (As an aside, I was astonished that eye doctors can now take a retinal MRI in the office, and that an MRI can be taken from only one side of the object; IOW, it didn’t need a sensor behind the eye to take an image, everything was done from the front.)

    1. Are you sure it was MRI? Typical in diagnosis of the eye would be OCT (optical coherence tomography). In particular to look at the depth of the retina. OCT takes only a few seconds and does not require any high magnetic fields.

    2. Retinal MRI? As in “magnetic resonance imaging”? Sure about that? Seems far fetched. Especially the part about “MRI can be taken from only one side of the object”

      I’m very curious. Can you describe the instrument more? Was it actually OCT instead?

  4. There’s a long history of experimentation in the area, for a variety of health problems. Search pubmed for low level laser therapy (LLLT) or red light therapy (RLT).

    Unfortunately, because it’s relatively easy to make red light, there are also a lot of scammers and “alternative” health whackos in the field. Thanks, but I’m not interested in the alternative to being healthy.

  5. 670 nm is deep red. A 1948 study published in the American Journal of Ophthamology showed that red light increased intraocular pressure and green light reduced intraocular pressure. High pressure is a risk for glaucoma and may risk worsening existing glaucoma. Glaucoma if not controlled leads to blindness.

    Please take this as a WARNING. If you’re old or have eye trouble, consult an eye doctor before playing with this.

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