Blocking blue light during mania – markedly increased regularity of sleep and rapid improvement of symptoms: a case report

Author: Henriksen, T.E.G.; Skrede, S.; Fasmer, O.B.; Hamre, B.; Gronli, J.; Lund, A.

Description: OBJECTIVE: Available pharmacological treatment of mania is insufficient. Virtual darkness therapy (blue light-blocking treatment by means of orange-tinted glasses) is a promising new treatment option for mania. The basis for this might be the recently identified blue light-sensitive retinal photoreceptor, which is solely responsible for light stimulus to the circadian master clock. This is the first case report describing the clinical course of a closely monitored, hospitalized patient in a manic episode first receiving clear-lensed, and then blue light-blocking glasses.

METHODS: A 58-year-old Caucasian man, with bipolar I disorder and three previous manic episodes, was hospitalized during a manic episode. In addition to pharmacological treatment, he was treated with clear-lensed glasses for seven days, then one day without glasses, followed by six days of blue light-blocking glasses. During the entire observational period, he wore an actigraph with internal light sensors.

RESULTS: Manic symptoms were unaltered during the first seven days. The transition to the blue-blocking regime was followed by a rapid and sustained decline in manic symptoms accompanied by a reduction in total sleep, a reduction in motor activity during sleep intervals, and markedly increased regularity of sleep intervals. The patient’s total length of hospital stay was 20 days shorter than the average time during his previous manic episodes.

CONCLUSIONS: The unusually rapid decline in symptoms, accompanied by uniform sleep parameter changes toward markedly increased regularity, suggest that blue-blockers might be targeting a central mechanism in the pathophysiology of mania that needs to be explored both in clinical research and in basic science.

Subject headings: Bipolar Disorder/therapy; Color Therapy; Eyeglasses; Humans; Light; Male; Middle Aged; Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate/physiology; Sensory Deprivation; Sleep/radiation effects; actigraphy; blue-blockers; case report; mania; sleep; virtual darkness

Publication year: 2014

Journal or book title: Bipolar Disorders

Volume: 16

Issue: 8

Pages: 894-898

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 2363