Light-emitting Japanese eyewear developed to fight dementia

A number of drugs have been developed to treat dementia, but devices are rare. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

SOSUKE KARINO, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

OSAKA — A Japanese drugmaker has teamed with a startup to develop a wearable device like eyeglasses that the companies hope to use to treat dementia symptoms.

Light-emitting diodes in the frame shine violet light — which lies at the high end of the visible spectrum — into the wearer’s eyes for several hours a day, stimulating parts of the brain including the frontal lobe and hippocampus.

The light will be nearly invisible to the wearer, letting them go on with their everyday activities, according to developers Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and Tsubota Laboratory, founded at Keio University.

While a number of drugs have been developed to fight dementia — including Aduhelm, an Alzheimer’s treatment from Eisai and Biogen recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — devices are rare in this field of medicine.

Clinical trials are set to begin as early as fiscal 2023, with the goal of bringing the product on the market in fiscal 2025.

Violet light makes up part of sunlight. With a wavelength of around 360 nanometers to 400 nanometers, it lies just before ultraviolet light in the spectrum.

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