Flashing lights: photosensitive epilepsy | Seizure triggers | About epilepsy

Flashing lights: photosensitive epilepsy

About 5% of children with epilepsy are sensitive to flashing or flickering lights, known as photosensitive epilepsy. Other triggers may include geometric shapes, patterns or situations such as sunlight reflecting on water, or light shining through a row of trees.

A flicker rate of between 5 and 30 times a second is the rate that is most likely to cause problems and EEG test will show that there are changes to the electrical impulses in the brain when looking at flashing lights.


  • If possible the child should be discouraged from coming in contact of any known seizure trigger. If they do, they should not close their eyes as this may increase the risk of having a seizure, but they should cover one eye with the palm of their hand and look away from the trigger.
  • LCD or 100 HZ televisions are less likely to trigger photosensitive seizures than plasma screens which often have high contrast levels.
  • Try to use a remote control to change channels. If this is not possible, encourage the child to cover one eye with the palm of the hand as they approach the TV.
  • When playing a video game the child should sit in a well lit room, at least 3m from the TV screen or 1m from the computer screen.
  • Discouraged children from playing video games when they are tired, as this can increase the chance of having a seizure.
  • Encourage regular breaks and rest between video games. A 10 minute break following 45 minutes of play should be enough.

Photosensitive epilepsy and higher education students

Going out and clubbing is a large part of the life style for students at college or university. We have lots of information and advice for students who are starting higher education and how they can look after themselves.

Advice for students

Helpline: 01342 831342 (Mon-Fri, 9am-3pm)
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The total number of children aged 4 years and under with epilepsy is approximately 1 in 509.

Cyber EssentialsFundraising RegulatorYoung Epilepsy is the operating name of The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy Charitable Trust.
Registered Charity number 311877 (England and Wales)

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