How Is Photosensitive Epilepsy Treated?

People with photosensitive epilepsy have seizures that are triggered by:

Anti-epileptic medicines are available to reduce the risk of a seizure. But people with photosensitive epilepsy should take steps to minimize their exposure to seizure triggers.

How can Epilepsy be caused?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurrent seizures (more than two). A seizure is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

It could also be caused by:

One in 100 Americans has epilepsy. About 3 to 5% have photosensitive epilepsy.

Photosensitive epilepsy can be more prevalent in adolescents and children aged 7-19. The condition affects girls more than it does boys. But boys tend to have more seizures. That's probably because they spend more time playing video games, a common seizure trigger.

What Causes Seizures in People With Photosensitive Epilepsy?

Seizure triggers vary from person to person. Nevertheless, there are some triggers that can be used to cause seizures.

Some specific examples of situations or events that can trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy are:

Also, people with photosensitive epilepsy may be at increased risk for a seizure if they are:

What are the symptoms of photosensitive epilepsy?

There are many different types of seizures. People with photosensitive epilepsy typically have what's called a "generalized tonic-clonic seizure." This is also known as a convulsive seizure.

A tonic-clonic seizure should last no more than five minutes. The following symptoms may be present:

When the seizure ends, the muscles relax and the person slowly regains consciousness. After the seizure, the person may:

Some people are able to return to normal activity soon after a seizure. Some may require rest.

What to Do During a Seizure

It's not possible to stop a seizure once it has started. If you see a person having a seizure, take these steps:

What time to call 911

For any of the following:

Try to keep track of how long the seizure lasts and what symptoms occur so you can tell a doctor or emergency personnel.

What is the best way to treat photosensitive epilepsy?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for photosensitive epilepsy. However, anti-epileptic medicines may reduce the frequency of seizures.

People with photosensitive epilepsy can also reduce the likelihood of having a seizure by avoiding stimuli that could trigger a seizure. If you are inadvertently exposed to a trigger, cover one eye completely and turn your head away from the source of disturbance.

Tips on Living With Photosensitive Epilepsy

If you or a loved one has photosensitive epilepsy, it is important to do what you can to reduce your exposure to seizure triggers. Here are some tips that may help keep you seizure-free:

Maintain a healthy lifestyle Follow these simple steps:

Avoid these places:

Here are some precautions you should take:

Prepare. Be aware of your triggers, and make sure you take preventative measures to minimize them. Also, try to recall any unusual symptoms that may have preceded the seizure, such as:

If you notice these warning signs, cover one eye and turn your head from the stimuli immediately. You can cover your eye while watching TV, or gaming on the computer.

If you or a loved one has a seizure, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can perform an EEG (electroencephalogram) to test for the condition. EEGs record brain activity, and are able to detect any abnormalities in brain electrical systems. During the test, a flashing light test can show if you or your child is photosensitive, without triggering a seizure.

Photosensitive epilepsy is a frustrating and unnerving condition. You never know when you will have a seizure. Photosensitive epilepsy can lead productive, normal lives for many. Most people find that over time, they have fewer seizures.