Skip to content

Epilepsy Health Center

Select An Article

Photosensitive Epilepsy

Font Size

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. Symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness and patient falls to the ground
  • Muscles contract and body stiffens
  • Patient cries out
  • Breathing pattern changes
  • Patient bites tongue and inside of cheeks
  • Limbs jerk or twitch as muscles tighten and relax
  • Loss of bladder control

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

  • Be confused
  • Feel tired
  • Have memory loss for a short time
  • Have a headache
  • Feel sore

Recovery time varies. Some people are able to return to normal activity soon after a seizure. Others may need to 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:

  • Roll the person onto his or her side to prevent choking.
  • Cushion the head.
  • Loosen any tight clothing around the neck.
  • Keep the airway open. Grip the jaw gently and tilt the head back, if necessary.
  • Remove any objects that he or she may hit during the seizure.
  • Don't restrict the person's movement unless he or she is in danger.
  • Don't put anything into the person's mouth, including medicine or liquid. Doing so could cause choking.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure has passed or emergency personnel have arrived.


When to Call 911

Call 911 if:

  • You know the person 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.

How Is Photosensitive Epilepsy Treated?

There is no cure 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.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

human head and brain waves
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Grand mal seizure
How is each one different?
marijuana plant
CBD, a plant chemical, may cut down seizures.
prescription bottle
Which medication is right for you?
Seizures Driving
Questions for Doctor Epilepsy
Graces Magic Diet
Pills spilling from bottle in front of clock
first aid kit
Caring Child Epilepsy
Making Home Safe
epilepsy monitoring

WebMD Special Sections