Near-Infrared Photobiomodulation in Retinal Injury and Disease

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016:854:437-41. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-17121-0_58.


Evidence is growing that exposure of tissue to low energy photon irradiation in the far-red (FR) to near-infrared (NIR) range of the spectrum, collectively termed "photobiomodulation" (PBM) can restore the function of damaged mitochondria, upregulate the production of cytoprotective factors and prevent apoptotic cell death. PBM has been applied clinically in the treatment of soft tissue injuries and acceleration of wound healing for more than 40 years. Recent studies have demonstrated that FR/NIR photons penetrate diseased tissues including the retina. The therapeutic effects of PBM have been hypothesized to result from intracellular signaling pathways triggered when FR/NIR photons are absorbed by the mitochondrial photoacceptor molecule, cytochrome c oxidase, culminating in improved mitochondrial energy metabolism, increased cytoprotective factor production and cell survival. Investigations in rodent models of methanol-induced ocular toxicity, light damage, retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration have demonstrated the PBM attenuates photoreceptor cell death, protects retinal function and exerts anti-inflammatory actions.

Keywords: Light damage (LD); Macular degeneration; Methanol intoxication; Photobiomodulation (PBM); Retinitis pigmentosa.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Electroretinography
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Infrared Rays*
  • Methanol / toxicity
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / radiation effects
  • Photons
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / drug effects
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / radiation effects
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Rats
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retina / radiation effects*
  • Retinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Retinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Retinal Diseases / therapy*


  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Methanol