Side effects of short-term 10,000-lux light therapy

Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Feb;155(2):293-4. doi: 10.1176/ajp.155.2.293.


Objective: Previous reports of side effects from light therapy were mostly based on administration of 2,500-lux treatments. It has become common practice to use brighter, 10,000-lux exposure when treating seasonal affective disorder. The authors studied side effects produced by short-term 10,000-lux light therapy.

Method: Seventy subjects with seasonal affective disorder who underwent brief 10,000-lux light therapy were asked to report side effects.

Results: Of the 70 subjects, 32 (45.7%) experienced side effects, and nine (12.9%) reported two or more apiece. Headaches and eye or vision problems were the most common. Almost all were mild, were transient, and did not interfere with treatment.

Conclusions: Short-term 10,000-lux light therapy often produces side effects early in treatment. These are not serious or prolonged, however, confirming findings from earlier studies that used dimmer light.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Eye Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Light / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Phototherapy / adverse effects*
  • Research Design
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / therapy*
  • Vision Disorders / etiology