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Photosensitive Epilepsy

Seizures in this type of Epilepsy are brought on by flickering light as in:

  • TV, Discos, Flashing VDU graphics.
  • Sunlight flickering through leaves.
  • Striped patterns on grill, gratings, clothes, furnishing fabrics.

  • 4% of patients with photosensitive epilepsy.


Television & Seizures

Seizures can be triggered by watching TV continuously. Though we view what appears on screen as pictures moving continuously, they are in fact dots and lines being refreshed at a particular frequency.:

  • At a time only half the lines are seen ie. 25 lines per second.

  • Refresh rate is 50 to 60/second.

  • In a colour TV it is a row of dots rather than lines This becomes obvious when sitting very close to TV with a large screen.

Seizure Inducing Patterns

The following types of patterns are likely to induce seizures:

  • Stripes of 1/8 “ three feet from the eye.

  • Stripes of 1/4” six feet from the eye.

  • Moving striped or trellis patterns.

  • Rarely reading can provoke seizures as the stripes formed by printed text form a troublesome pattern.

  • Flashing graphics and lights eg car headlights.

Tips For Safe TV & VDU Usage

  •  Small screen ideal 12 to 14 inches for playing videogames & computer usage.

  • TV should produce a stable picture.

  • Colour & Black & White do not differ.

  • Viewing distance should be four times the width of the screen while playing videogames or watching TV.

  • Moderately lit room with dim picture preferable.

Tips For Safe TV/VDU Usage

  • Moving graphics as in video games provoke seizures.

  • Colour content of the picture may be important eg: red is worse than blue.

  • Striped patterns have high potential to cause seizures especially if the pattern is moving.

  • The picture should be stable and not roll or zig zag.


EEG & Photosensitive Epilepsy

  • EEG can diagnose photosensitive epilepsy when photic stimulation at varying frequencies of flashes are given.

  • Response may be photoparoxysmal, photoconvulsive, etc.

  • This type of epilepsy can be controlled with Sodium Valproate and sensible viewing of TV/VDU, etc.

Television, Computers & Epilepsy

People with epilepsy are often given lifestyle precautions to follow in addition to their medications.

It is desirable to avoid,

  • Avoid missing sleep ( 6-8 hours sleep is absolutely essential ) and it is better for people with epilepsy not to undertake night shifts.

  • Avoid missing meals or observing fasts for any reason, including religious ones.

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to very hot sun.

  • Avoid taking alcohol or other dependency producing drugs.

  • Avoid missing the medication or taking them late.

  • If fever develops or other intercurrent infection occurs, treat it promptly.

  • Inform the doctor that you have epilepsy and what drugs you are on.

  • Avoid seeing too much TV or using computers for long hours. In this connection, it is important to understand that while all people with epilepsy are at risk, those with photosensitive epilepsy (4% of those with epilepsy are photosensitive) are more prone to TV induced seizures.

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