Photosensitive Epilepsy

Guidelines for Computers and Computer Games

21 February 2009
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Computer Games

Current medical opinion is that video games do not create a tendency to epileptic seizures where the tendency is not already there. However, software or games featuring patterns of flashing lights or geometric patterns may trigger seizures in a very small number of sensitive people. The reaction which a photosensitive person has to a particular game depends on the nature of the flickering light or pattern featured combined with glare and the proportion of the visual field that the image occupies.

Computer Visual Display Units (VDUs)

As with video games there is no evidence to suggest that VDU's can actually cause epilepsy. However, seizures may be provoked in a few people who already have sensitivity to the flicker and glare effect of the screen especially as the nature of use means the person is close to the screen. Only a very small number of people are affected in this way (as few as 3-5% of all people with epilepsy) which means that computer work should not be an unduly restricted occupation for people with epilepsy. Many people who are photosensitive may even still use computers quite safely if they adhere to safety advice using a screen filter to reduce glare, adjust the rate of flicker to a safer range, use an LCD screen, take frequent breaks and avoid becoming overtired. Those with PSE may find more problem arise using older rather than newer equipment due to the speed of flicker.

Liquid Crystal Display screens (LCD) are flicker free and may pose less risk to a person with photosensitive epilepsy. Glare factors may still need to be accommodated with an attachable anti-glare screen if this measure is not built in.

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