Photosensitive epilepsy PSE is a form of epilepsy in which seizures are triggered by visual stimuli that form patterns in time or space, such as flashing lights; bold, regular patterns; or regular moving patterns. People with PSE experience epileptiform seizures upon exposure to certain visual stimuli. The exact nature of the stimulus or stimuli that triggers the seizures varies from one patient to another, as does the nature and severity of the resulting seizures ranging from brief absence seizures to full tonic—clonic seizures. Many PSE patients experience an " aura " or feel odd sensations before the seizure occurs, and this can serve as a warning to a patient to move away from the trigger stimulus.
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This condition is known as photosensitive epilepsy. It becomes less frequent with age, with relatively few cases in the mid-twenties. They may never go on to develop epilepsy with spontaneous seizures.
They do not have epilepsy. Seizures in photosensitive people may be triggered by exposure to some of the following situations:. Not all televisions, video games, computer monitors, and strobe lights trigger seizures.
Even in predisposed individuals, many factors must combine to trigger the photosensitive reaction. Examples include:. The frequency or speed of flashing light that is most likely to cause seizures varies from person to person. Generally, flashing lights most likely to trigger seizures are between the frequency of 5 to 30 flashes per second Hertz. It is possible on most social media and some website browsers to turn off or disable the video autoplay feature.
Taking this step on the tools you use can help limit your risk of exposure to potentially seizure- and headache-inducing content. Find tips here. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. Skip to main content. Sign In Register find us donate. Photosensitivity and Seizures.
Examples of Triggers Seizures in photosensitive people may be triggered by exposure to some of the following situations: Television screens or computer monitors due to the flicker or rolling images. Certain video games or TV broadcasts containing rapid flashes or alternating patterns of different colors. Intense strobe lights like visual fire alarms. Natural light, such as sunlight, especially when shimmering off water, flickering through trees or through the slats of Venetian blinds.
Certain visual patterns, especially stripes of contrasting colors. Some people wonder whether flashing lights on the top of buses or emergency vehicles may trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy too. The likelihood of such conditions combining to trigger a seizure is small. What should I do if flashing lights bother me? Check with your doctor if you are concerned about flashing lights triggering seizures.
Chances are that your medical records will indicate how you responded to flashing lights during the electroencephalogram EEG , a test done routinely in most people with epilepsy. An abnormal response to various frequencies of flashing lights indicates the presence of photosensitivity. If you have not been diagnosed with epilepsy or have not had an EEG, ask your doctor about ordering one for you or consult a local neurologist.
Finding out if you are photosensitive can be helpful if your daily activities include risks such as intense videogame playing. Cover one eye and turn away from the source of flashing lights. Closing both eyes or turning your eyes in another direction will not help. Television Screens Watch television in a well-lit room to reduce the contrast between light from the set and light in the room. Reduce the brightness of the screen. Sit as far back from the screen as possible. Avoid watching for long periods of time.
Wear polarized sunglasses while viewing television to reduce glare. Video Games Sit at least 2 feet from the screen in a well-lit room. Do not let children play videogames if they are tired. Take frequent breaks from games and look away from the screen every once in a while.
Do not close and open eyes while looking at the screen. Blinking may facilitate seizures in sensitive individuals. Cover one eye while playing. Alternate which eye is covered at regular intervals. Turn the game off if strange or unusual feelings or body jerks develop. Use a monitor glare guard. Wear non-glare glasses to reduce glare from the screen. Take frequent breaks from tasks involving the computer. Social Media Video Autoplay It is possible on most social media and some website browsers to turn off or disable the video autoplay feature.
Strobe lights As much as possible, avoid being in places where strobe lights are used, such as certain bars or clubs. If a strobe light suddenly appears, cover one eye and turn away from the source of flashing lights and try to leave the area. School dances may also have strobes; however most schools will avoid strobe lights if there is a student with photosensitive epilepsy who wishes to attend the dance.
It is important to convey this need to the school. Visual Fire Alarm Strobe Lights Under the Americans with Disabilities Act ADA , most workplaces and places serving the public, including theaters, restaurants, and recreation areas, are required to have fire alarms that flash as well as ring so people who cannot hear or cannot hear well will know there is an emergency. Reviewed By:. Monday, September 30, Our Mission The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.
Photosensitivity and Seizures