UV Treatment using a Magnifying Glass

A review of Magnifying-Glass Phototherapy for the treatment of psoriasis.

Grade F

There is a person who signed his newsgroup posts as Greg Cole who endorses using a magnifying glass as a super-cheap form of UV treatment. He has also sent out unsolicited email about this issue to many people.

Greg claims to have used a dime-store magnifying glass to focus sunlight on his psoriasis plaques. He’d either make the focused spot a pinpoint, and “dart it around,” or make the spot of bright sunlight “dime-sized” and move it more slowly. Feeling the heat of the Sun was the only method of dosage control offered. These methods are dangerous. Simple skin damage caused by burning can take days to show up, so cautions against burning oneself (which Greg admits to having done) are almost worthless. And depending on the quality of the magnifying glass, it is quite easy to focus the UV rays (which are invisible) at a differently-sized spot than the visible point of light you can see.

As well, since normal glass is opaque to certain UV wavelengths, it’s obvious that there probably won’t be much benefit from UV itself, anyway. Meanwhile, the skin is being bombarded with high amounts of useless infrared (which is what makes you feel the heat) and visible light, as well as UV (possibly non-therapeutic “burning” rays) that isn’t blocked by the glass. Lenses made from different materials (plastic is probably the most common) may or may not be opaque to different sets of wavelengths. Greg was told of these serious concerns, yet a later newsgroup post proves that he either doesn’t understand them, or ignored them completely.

According to his email, Greg was disappointed with the response he got from the newsgroup, and he thinks the people who think he’s a nut either don’t know what a magnifying glass does, or think it “is like a laser or something.” Most of the public response to him dealt with reasonable concerns about UV dosage control, which is completely unavailable with his method.

Greg’s email (and several newgroup posts) concludes with a fairly standard They Laughed at Galileo kind of appeal for his treatment. He says, “I am sure many people thought Bee Sting Therapy for arthritis was crazy too, but now it is done all over the world!” While Bee Venom Therapy may be done all over the world, it is far from a proven method of treatment for arthritis or multiple sclerosis. The comparison of an experimental arthritis treatment to a psoriasis “treatment” is also invalid (comparing apples to oranges).

Greg gave his email address as battleapple@webtv.net, if you really do want to get in touch with him. I’d advise against it, though, since with this “method” of treatment, it’s impossible to truly regulate your amount of exposure, and burning is a serious concern. Even without the use of a magnifying glass, using natural sunlight as a treatment requires a lot of caution. Medical phototherapy units and procedures are much safer, overall.

Other Posts

A little doctor paranoia shows up here, in the last line. Doctors would much rather be curing us so that we’re not repeat customers. There are plenty of sick people around.

He seems to say “nanny-nanny-boo-boo” here. It’s as if he thought that people thanking him makes his suggestions safe.

It’s safe if you’re smart is an empty argument. It’s impossible to be “smart” with something that’s as variable as this method. The only good line here is “Just be sensible.” We should all follow this advice and not apply focused sunlight to our skin.