Epilepsy Institute of NC info@eiofnc.org 336-659-8202


Flashing lights can cause someone to have a seizure.  Not just people who already have seizures, but people who have a hidden unknown form of epilepsy can start having seizures.  (https://healthhelp.com)  Flashing lights can also cause migraines, nausea, and dizziness.  This is called photosensitive epilepsy.

Photosensitive epilepsy can be triggered by:

  • Television screens or computer monitors due to the flicker or rolling images.
  • Certain video games or TV broadcasts containing rapid flashes or alternating patterns of different colors.
  • Intense strobe lights like visual fire alarms.
  • Natural light, such as sunlight, especially when shimmering off water, flickering through trees or through the slats of Venetian blinds.
  • Certain visual patterns, especially stripes of contrasting colors.
  • Some people wonder whether flashing lights on the top of buses or emergency vehicles may trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy too.  (http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/triggers-seizures/photosensitivity-and-seizures)

Photosensitive epilepsy occurs in 3% of people who already have epilepsy.  They are more common in children and adolescents.  Flourescent lights and ceiling fans can also cause a photosensitive seizure.   This type of epilepsy is genetic.  In the UK, they have guidelines for TV broadcasters. They have to give warnings if a show has images that might cause problems, and they also restrict using images that may cause a problem.(http://www.nhs.uk/ipgmedia/national/epilepsy%20action/assets/photosensitiveepilepsy.pdf)  Ways to help photosensitive epilepsy are watch TV in a well-lit room, take breaks while watching TV, there are types of TVs that refresh the screen at 70Hz, and lastly turn your head away from the TV until the flashing lights are gone.  The website above gives more information.

Having a problem with flashing lights causing me to have a migraine, I want to help people who have photosensitive epilepsy.  Being frustrated and wanting these commercials to not have flashing lights, I called the companies.  To my surprise, one company still uses that commercial but it does not show flashing lights!  I have not seen the other company’s commercial since I reached out to them!

All we have to do is ask nicely and tell the companies about epilepsy.  It was that easy.  Please join me in calling companies that have commercials with flashing lights and maybe they will understand also.

Thanks for your help and taking time to read my blog.

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