How Is Photosensitive Epilepsy Treated?
People with photosensitive epilepsy have seizures that are triggered by:
- Flashing lights
- Use bold, contrastive visual patterns like stripes and checks
- Video games are overexposed
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:
- Inconsistency in wiring the brain
- Inbalance in neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers within the brain
- These factors can be combined
- Photosensitive epilepsy is also affected by genetics.
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.
- Flashing light
- Bright and contrasting patterns like white bars against black backgrounds are possible
- Flashing white light, followed by darkness
- Images that stimulate your whole vision.
- Red and blue, for example, are examples of certain colors
Some specific examples of situations or events that can trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy are:
- Evening club and theatre lights including TV screens, computer monitors and strobe lamps
- Safety alarms and flashing lights for police cars, firetrucks, ambulances
- Video games, television shows and movies use visual effects
- Moving escalators and fluorescent lighting that is not working properly
- A fast-moving ceiling fan illuminates light
- Sunlight seen through slanted blinds and stair railings
- Sun shining through trees leaves, or reflecting off the water
- Bold and striped wallpapers and fabrics
- Multi-flash cameras or several flashing cameras at once
Also, people with photosensitive epilepsy may be at increased risk for a seizure if they are:
- You can play video games for too long without taking a rest.
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:
- Patient falls to the floor and loses consciousness
- Muscles contract while the body stiffens
- Patient cries out
- Changes in breathing pattern
- Patient bites his tongue, inside of the cheeks
- When muscles tighten or relax, the limbs will jerk and twitch.
- Persistent loss of bladder control
When the seizure ends, the muscles relax and the person slowly regains consciousness. After the seizure, the person may:
- Do not be misled
- Feel tired
- Memory loss is temporary
- Have a headache
- You will feel sore
- There are different recovery times.
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:
- For choking prevention, place the person on their side.
- Cushion the head.
- Reduce the amount of tight clothing that is around your neck.
- Maintain open airways.
- Grip the jaw gently and tilt the head back, if necessary.
- Remove any objects that they may hit during the seizure.
- If the individual is in danger, you should not restrict their movement.
- Do not put any liquid or medicine in the mouth of the patient. Choking could result.
- Stay with the person until the seizure has passed or emergency personnel have arrived.
What time to call 911
For any of the following:
- The person you know is pregnant or has diabetes.
- The seizure occurs in water.
- The seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
- The person doesn't regain consciousness after the seizure stops, another seizure starts before they regain consciousness, or they stop breathing.
- Injury occurs as a result of the seizure.
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:
- Rest well.
- Reduce stress.
- Do not consume excessive alcohol.
- Do not play video and computer games while you are sick or tired.
- Avoid flashing lights from known sources
Avoid these places:
- Feuerwerk shows
- You can be screen-smart.
Here are some precautions you should take:
- Play video games and watch TV in a bright room. Keep your distance away from the monitor and the TV at least 8 feet.
- Flicker-free monitors are available (LCD, flat screen).
- Instead of reaching for the remote to switch channels, you can use it with a remote controller.
- The brightness level of monitors should be reduced.
- To control moving images, adjust your Internet settings.
- Reduce the time you spend in front of the computer or TV.
- Take care of your eyes.
- Wear polarized sunglasses outdoors to shield your eyes against the bright sunlight.
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:
- Vision blurred
- Muscle twitching
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.