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Photosensitive Epilepsy

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Tips for 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:

Follow a healthy lifestyle. Take simple steps such as:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Limit stress.
  • Avoid excess alcohol.
  • Don't play computer and video games when you are tired or for too long.

Avoid known sources of flashing lights. Places you might want to avoid include:

  • Nightclubs
  • Firework shows
  • Concerts

Be screen-smart. Some precautions to take include:

  • Watch TV and play video games in a well-lit room and at a safe distance from the screen (at least 8 feet from the TV and 2 feet from a computer monitor).
  • Use flicker-free monitors (LCD or flat screen).
  • Use a remote control instead of walking up to the TV to change the channel.
  • Reduce the brightness on screen monitors.
  • Adjust Internet settings to control moving images.
  • Limit time spent in front of the TV, computer, and on hand-held devices.

Protect your eyes. When outside, wear polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from bright light.

Be prepared. Know your triggers and take steps to avoid them as much as possible. Also, try to recall any unusual symptoms that may have preceded the seizure, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle twitching

If you notice these warning signs, cover one eye and turn your head from the stimuli immediately. If you are watching TV or playing video games, cover one eye and walk away.

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. An EEG records brain activity and can detect abnormalities in the brain's electrical system. During the test, a flashing light test can show if you or your child is photosensitive, without triggering a seizure.

Living with photosensitive epilepsy can be unnerving and frustrating. You never know when you will have a seizure. But many people with photosensitive epilepsy live productive and relatively normal lives. Most people find that over time, they have fewer seizures.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on June 28, 2014
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