Background: The discovery of a novel photoreceptor in the retinal ganglion cells with a highest sensitivity of 470-490 nm blue light has led to research on the effects of short-wavelength light in humans. Several studies have explored the efficacy of monochromatic blue or blue-enriched light in the treatment of SAD. In this study, a comparison has been made between the effects of broad-wavelength light without ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths compared to narrow-band blue light in the treatment of sub-syndromal seasonal affective disorder (Sub-SAD).
Method: In a 15-day design, 48 participants suffering from Sub-SAD completed 20-minute sessions of light treatment on five consecutive days. 22 participants were given bright white-light treatment (BLT, broad-wavelength light without UV 10 000 lux, irradiance 31.7 Watt/m(2)) and 26 participants received narrow-band blue light (BLUE, 100 lux, irradiance 1.0 Watt/m(2)). All participants completed daily and weekly questionnaires concerning mood, activation, sleep quality, sleepiness and energy. Also, mood and energy levels were assessed by means of the SIGH-SAD, the primary outcome measure.
Results: On day 15, SIGH-SAD ratings were significantly lower than on day 1 (BLT 54.8 %, effect size 1.7 and BLUE 50.7 %, effect size 1.9). No statistically significant differences were found on the main outcome measures.
Conclusion: Light treatment is an effective treatment for Sub-SAD. The use of narrow-band blue-light treatment is equally effective as bright white-light treatment.
Trial registration: This study was registered in the Dutch Trial Register (Nederlands Trial Register TC = 4342 ) (20-12-2013).