Flashing lights

    Fast facts

    1. 1
      People who have seizures triggered by flashing lights or high contrast patterns, have photosensitive epilepsy
    2. 2
      Only about 3 in 100 people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy
    3. 3
      People with photosensitive epilepsy are often sensitive to a specific rate of flicker. This is measured in Hertz (Hz). People tend to find seizures are triggered in the range between 5 Hz and 50 Hz
    4. 4
      Rates of flicker at 65 Hz or above tend not to be an issue for people with photosensitive epilepsy
    5. 5
      Doctors can check if you are photosensitive during an EEG test
    6. 6
      Photosensitive epilepsy is more common in people who have a syndrome such as juvenile myoclonic epilepsy or juvenile absence epilepsy

    About 3 in a 100 people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy

    Triggers for people with photosensitive epilepsy

    What people are sensitive to is very individual, not everything will affect every person with photosensitive epilepsy. There are many possible sources of flashing light or flickering. It could be:

    Possible triggers


    Stobe lighting


    The content on a screen


    Things in nature such as sun reflecting on water, or dappled sunlight through trees or railings


    Patterns such a strong stripes, checks or repetitive patterns


    A ceiling fan rotating quickly. Looking at light through it could be a seizure trigger


    Faulty lights, that develop a flicker

    Modern TV and computer screens shouldn’t flicker so are unlikely to be a seizure trigger for most people. In the past, screens used different technology and could cause people problems.

    teenage boys playing on a tablet

    Top tips

    It’s a common misconception for people to think that everyone with epilepsy is sensitive to flashing lights. In fact only about 3% of people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy. These tips are for people who have photosensitive epilepsy:


    Action to reduce the chance of a photosensitive triggered seizure

    Stories by you

    Read Anky’s story about how she managed having photosensitive epilepsy

    Read Brooke’s story I have photosensitive epilepsy

    Couple in pyjamas sitting on the sofa playing a video game

    Do something

    If you have photosensitive epilepsy, have think if about if there is there anything that would help you to avoid your triggers?

    More info

    The Epilepsy Action website has more on photosensitive epilepsy

    Epilepsy Action

    There is more info on EEG tests and epilepsy on the Epilepsy Action website

    EEG tests

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    Updated 12 May 2020
    Review 12 May 2023
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