The effect of polarized versus nonpolarized light on melatonin regulation in humans

Photochem Photobiol. 2000 Jun;71(6):766-70. doi: 10.1562/0031-8655(2000)071<0766:teopvn>;2.


The aim of this study was to compare the effects of polarized light versus nonpolarized light on melatonin secretion in healthy, humans (mean age, 25 years; N = 6). On separate evenings, each subject was exposed to four different light intensities (20, 40, 80 and 3200 lx) of both polarized and nonpolarized light, as well as to a control, dark exposure. Each evening experiment consisted of a 120 min dark exposure (0000-0200 h) followed by a 90 min light exposure (0200-0330 h). Subjects' pupils were dilated prior to exposures. Blood samples were drawn at the start and end of each light-exposure period and later assayed for melatonin by radioimmunoassay. When compared to control exposures, both polarized and nonpolarized light elicited significant suppression of plasma melatonin at each illuminance (P < 0.03 to P < 0.0001), There were no significant differences between the effects of polarized light and nonpolarized light at any illuminance. The two light stimuli modalities demonstrated very similar fluence-response relationships between illuminance and melatonin suppression. Thus, the human pineal gland is responsive to ocular exposure with polarized light in a dose-dependent manner similar to that of nonpolarized light, although no significant differences were detected between polarized and nonpolarized light on melatonin regulation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Male
  • Melatonin / blood
  • Melatonin / physiology*


  • Melatonin