by Sairica Rose
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sufferers can open their ears to Valkee: a Finnish device claiming to treat the disorder by shining light through the ear canals (Gizmag.com, 9 November 2011).
- Common treatments for SAD — also known as the winter blues — include regular exposure to bright artificial light that mimics sunlight.
- Valkee’s designers say that artificial light also works when shone into the ears. The device stimulates OPN3 photoreceptor proteins in the brain that react favourably to light exposure, even when filtered through tissue and bone.
- Resembling a personal music player, Valkee emits fibre optic lights through earbuds. By placing the glowing fibres in their ears for 8 minutes a day, Valkee’s creators insist that SAD sufferers can wave the disorder a cheery goodbye.
- Clinical trials of the device by Finland’s University of Oulu found that 92% of subjects experienced relief from tiredness and anxiety and improved their cognitive performance.
- Valkee can be purchased online for €215.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- SAD affects thousands of sufferers each year, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Fast, nonintrusive relief could prove just the tonic for banishing winter blues.
- Portable cure-it-yourself devices offer consumers greater autonomy and confidence and can lighten the burden on health practitioners and services.