Circadian rhythms are the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that occur over the course of a day, responding primarily to light and darkness in the environment. Special non-image forming cells in the eye’s retina that contain melanopsin (a pigment involved in the regulation of nonvisual responses) and are sensitive to blue light are known to affect these daily rhythms. These nonvisual responses also have been noted with higher intensity light levels. Now, new research reveals that green light and the cones and rods in the retina used for vision are also involved. The research, published in Science Translational Medicine, examined how melatonin (a major hormone associated with human sleeping patterns) responds to different wavelengths of light and suggests that light therapy for sleep disorders may be optimized by stimulating both visual and nonvisual systems.
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