Vielight founder Lew Lim, a self-described “naturopathic doctor” and engineer, is eager to argue that there is evidence behind his devices. He claims his company, which has sold in excess of 30 000 units, has undertaken studies showing their neuroprotective benefits.
“We’ve had some really dramatic, positive outcomes,” he told me recently, on a trip to Australia to meet with researchers at the Bosch Institute. “People have told me that this has literally saved their lives.”
Unfortunately, there is a major impediment behind commencing a large, scientifically rigorous study of red and infrared light therapy in humans and that is funding – or more specifically, the lack of it. “We are in the process of trying to get funds for the human trial but it’s difficult because a trial like this costs five to six million dollars,” Mitrofanis said.
Despite these barriers, Mitrofanis remains optimistic about the long-term future of infrared light therapy. A career-defining moment came for him recently when he travelled to Tasmania to meet the people with whom he had been corresponding with for more than a year.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Mitrofanis said, recalling the emotional meeting where those affected by neurodegenerative disorders told their stories about light therapy and how it had improved their lives. “No one can say the light treatment has completely reversed all their symptoms, but they’re all showing signs of improvement.”
Burr is aware of Vielight’s infrared therapy units but has no intention of giving up his own homemade device. He has been using light therapy for 18 months now and has not required any increase in his anti-Parkinson’s medications. In the meantime, his LED unit has received an upgrade. “We’ve made it out of a bucket from Bunnings,” he said. “We’ve also added 810-nanometre lights as well as the 670-nanometre lights. Both LED wavelengths are in alternate rows, and each wavelength has its own switch. So I do 15 minutes on one wavelength and then 15 minutes on the other wavelength.”