United Nations International Day of Light

Annually, on May 16, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Light. This ensures
that we may, at least once a year, appreciate the importance of this often taken for granted
resource. Though agriculture, technology, communication and education are all highly
dependent, there is no field in which light will play as critical of role as in the future of
The field of Veterinary Medicine has been a leader in adapting Photobiomodulation, previously
known as Laser Therapy, to treat a variety of diseases. This science uses relatively low energy
intensities from light emitting diodes (LEDs) and low power lasers to improve the quality of life
of animals that suffer from many of the same diseases as humans. It is estimated that upwards
of twenty percent of all veterinary practices now have access to what is commonly referred to
as Light Therapy.
Photobiomodulation uses light of specific wavelength, intensity and frequency to enhance
activity within cells that comprise all tissues. Although muscles and joints have a different
cellular makeup than kidneys or nerves, all are dependent on mitochondria. These microscopic
structures manufacture energy in the form of ATP upon which all bodily processes are
dependent. We cannot breathe, digest, think or move without ATP. Disease, injury, cancer or
even side effects from medications, cause our cells to become stressed. This so called
“oxidative stress” interferes with the production of ATP, without which our body cannot
function properly. Light absorption into cells and subsequently mitochondria, is one of the only
known processes by which cellular energy production can be restored.
Though initially used for its anti-inflammatory properties to treat aches, pains and injuries in
soft tissues, bones and joints, the past ten years has seen an explosion in the pathologies to
which Photobiomodulation has been applied. Chronic Kidney Disease, Pancreatitis, Traumatic
Brain Injury and Intervertebral Disc Disease are only a few of previously elusive diseases that
were lacking in proactive treatment. Light Therapy has dramatically changed the approach as
well as the dialogue that ensues when facing these conditions. As these treatments have
become more well known in Veterinary Medicine, the crossover to human patients has become
inevitable. Frequently when pet owners see the improvement in the quality of life of their fourlegged
companions, the first question becomes; “where can I get treated?”.
On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, the International Day of Light will be upon us. For the tens of
thousands of patients, pet owners and families that have witnessed the dramatic benefits of
Photobiomodulation, let’s all remind ourselves that this energy, derived from sunlight, should
not be taken for granted. It is as much our lifeblood as the fluids that flow through our veins.
Without light………there can be no life.