Brigham & Women's Hospital's, Dr. Janis Anderson Provides Useful Seasonal Affective Disorder Information

Terri SunRay 2011

Many products for light treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder have been developed since the 1980s, and several have been used in clinical research studies where they were effective. No one type of bulb or device has been demonstrated superior to all others. The main considerations are cost and safety. In the absence of FDA regulation, it is up to the consumer to look into claims made by vendors.

Claims regarding specific lux output can be misleading since the actual “dose” is dependent on the distance of the user from the device and individuals vary in sensitivity. Some wavelengths of light can be hazardous to eyes or skin, so major research centers have avoided ultraviolet-containing “full-spectrum” bulbs and those who used blue lights carefully evaluated data concerning output for the specific device as it relates to blue-light hazards to the eye. In general, cool-white fluorescent or some LED bulbs that are white or blue-enriched white have been used successfully in many clinical research centers.

Some manufacturers of research-tested devices have been sold or have discontinued the product lines that had been tested at independent research centers. Other manufacturers, such as the SunBox Company and Litebook, have expanded their product line without having independent research evaluations for their new products. References below are specific to the products named.

Among well-established products available at this time are:

The vendors should be able to supply citations for published research conducted using their product.

Dawn simulators have been used effectively in research, but the devices employed are not commercially available. Those who wish to include dawn simulation in a treatment regimen may wish to consult the website of the Center for Environmental Therapeutics ( for suggestions.

You can also check out this related blog post from Brigham & Women’s Hospital.