87th International Conference of Light and Vision
I had the opportunity to go to the 87th International Conference of Light and Vision and sit in on their Syntonics 101 course. Syntonics is a form of photo therapy applied to the eyes that impacts the autonomic nervous system. It seeks to balance one’s sympathetic and parasympathetic responses with specific frequencies of light. Hence, the name “syn” meaning same and “tonic” meaning tone: same-tone, syntonics.
Why is a balanced nervous system important? To understand this, we need to further breakdown the difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic sides of the nervous system. Firstly, neither of them are under one’s direct control. They both reside under the autonomic nervous system or the things one’s body takes care of without their direct command or control. Think of jerking a hand away from something hot or digesting lunch. One doesn’t tell their body to do such things, they just happen. Secondly, if there’s an imbalance between the two systems, it effectively means one’s body is stuck on either fight/flight or rest/digest mode. Having one’s nervous system constantly tell them that they should be running or fighting whatever stimulus that’s around them is not a particularly helpful response to say, homework, nor would the opposite response of drowsiness.
So now that we better understand the system that syntonics work on, we can understand how they are used. Typically, a patient would view a combination of frequencies of light in a dark room from a special lamp known as a syntonizer for up to 20 minutes. In that 20 minutes, a patient would look at two different filters: a color that brings them more towards one end of the sympathetic/parasympathetic spectrum and a color that brings them back to a balanced point. The colors chosen are derived from a kinetic visual field test, pupillary response to light, and the patient’s medical history.
The impact syntonics can make in vision therapy cannot be understated. I’ve seen people practically melt when looking at some of the more calming lights. I work with a lot of patients who’ve had concussions and it makes a huge difference in their therapy. They often come in with headaches and almost always leave in less pain/discomfort. My patients are often surprised at what a difference looking at a couple different lights can make in 20 minutes.