Lights done right

Sunday, January 22, 2012

DARTMOUTH, Nova Scotia - There are a few things providers should know if they want to successfully add SAD lights to their product mix, says Peter Walker, brand manager at Uplift Technologies. 

* Tell patients how the lights work: The lights should reach the receptors in the back and bottom of the eye, Walker said. "When they're exposed to that light, they basically cause the pineal gland to stop producing melatonin, which is what makes you tired and groggy." Shining a light at the ceiling won't let the rays hit those receptors and won't do the patient any good. 

* Make sure patients know when to use it: The best time of day to use SAD lights is in the early morning, Walker said. "If you use it at 4 o'clock in the afternoon for a half an hour, you could affect your sleeping patterns, which would exasperate the SAD," Walker said. Patients should use it every day, at around the same time, he said.  

* Make sure you're selling effective lights: The Center for Environmental Therapeutics ( recommends that lights provide 10,000 lux of illumination at a comfortable sitting distance; have a smooth diffusing screen that filters out ultraviolet (UV) rays; and give off white light, among other criteria. 

* Beat the sticker shock: Walker recommends providers rent out lights for a month to give patients a chance to see if it works for them--and if they can make it a habit. "It's a $150 to $200 purchase," said Walker. "It's a little bit expensive because they don't know if it's going to work, and one of the issues that most people have is compliance." Walker said most providers put the rental fee toward the cost of purchasing a light.