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AAN 2023 | Bright light therapy to manage Parkinson’s disease

Michelle Jonelis, MD, Redwood Pulmonary Medical Associates, Redwood City, CA, discusses the use of bright light therapy to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Studies in care homes have shown that bright light in the daytime and dimmer light at night has positive results for dementia patients. Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells signal to the suprachiasmatic nucleus pathway, which leads to the release of dopamine. PD is associated with a dopamine deficiency, so bright light therapy has been used to stimulate dopamine release in patients. This has, overall, been effective, with some patients being able to reduce levodopa and carbidopa dosage. Dr. Jonelis recommends bright light therapy twice daily – in the morning and early evening – to reduce insomnia and other symptoms. This interview took place at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting 2023 in Boston, MA.

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