SAD lights boost winter sales

Thursday, January 12, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine - Light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has been around for more than 20 years, but many HME providers have only recently turned to SAD lights to increase their retail offerings. 

"It has been a very good item for us," said Jesse Riggleman, who began selling SAD lights at Kittanning, Pa.-based Armscare last year. "This is the prime season for them."

SAD is a disorder in which people experience symptoms of depression in response to changes in light, particularly the shorter days during winter months.

SAD lights work by replacing that light, therefore improving mood, said Dr. Larry Epstein, chief medical officer at Brighton, Mass.-based Sleep HealthCenters.

"The relationship between light exposure and mood has been known for quite a while," said Epstein. "There's very good data to show (using SAD lights) is equivalent to what you'd get treating SAD with medication."

As with other durable medical equipment, the look and feel of SAD lights have improved over the years, increasing their selling power, said Jim Greatorex, president of Portland, Maine-based Black Bear Medical. 

"They used to be big and ugly," said Greatorex. "You can still get something like that, if you want, but now there's a significant variety, like nice desk lamps and lights designed for portability."

While some insurers will pay for SAD lights, which cost between $150 and $200, users typically pay for them out of pocket, Greatorex said. He estimates he sells more than 200 SAD lights each year, mostly in November and December.

There is no one type of customer who buys SAD lights, say providers, although people will often come in to buy one for their spouse. Riggleman has also sold lights to pregnant women and people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he said.

"I'm always looking for new ideas, new things to help patients enhance their quality of life," he said.



I had never thought of SAD lights. Once again, you managed to come up with an interesting article for the Monday newsletter. The new Medtrade Monday newsletter is pretty darn good, but you guys are still the best. HomeCare Monday is not what it used to be.

SAD lights are a great way to attract new customers who might not normally visit an HME and renting the units on a trial basis is one way to close those customers who may be on the fence due to the price.

Light therapy is a life-saver for those who have SAD, and you're right, SAD lights have been clinically proven to be just as effective as anti-depressants without all of the negative side-effects. As time goes on, researchers are finding more and more applications for them like jet lag, certain mental disorders, and more. Specific wave lengths of light can even help acne, aging skin, and pain. Nowadays, you don't even have to pay between $150 - $200 as there are a few lights that are less than $100 with very good results.