Photosensitive Epilepsy

Who is affected by Photosensitivity

24 February 2009
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Photosensitivity most commonly affects children, and usually becomes evident between the ages of 6 years and 15 years, suggesting a link with early puberty. Girls are affected more often than boys. There is some evidence to suggest that photosensitivity may disappear with age. With recent advances in electronics most young people nowadays are exposed to a wide range of electronic equipment some of which may cause problems for the person with photosensitive epilepsy. Natural light sources are just as likely to trigger seizures in a photosensitive individual as artificial ones are. For example, sunlight shining on water or through leaves of trees, or flickering as the person travels rapidly past rows of trees or railings can also cause seizures. Geometric patterns with strong contrast (bars, stripes, grids, etc) may also provoke this reaction in some especially if combined with motion. Polarised sunglasses, preferably with side shades, can help to reduce the effects. In most photosensitive people, seizures are triggered instantaneously and tend to occur at the time of the provoking stimulus rather than later on. Overall, the condition of photosensitive epilepsy is relatively rare and should not lead to undue restrictions for people with epilepsy as a group.

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