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What Is Photosensitive Epilepsy (PSE)?

Learn about photosensitive epilepsy, or PSE, from Steve Wolf, MD and Patty McGoldrick, NP in this Howcast video.


You know whenever anybody comes into the office they always ask us, first thing, about whether epilepsy can be triggered by strobe lights, and people often think back to when the first Pokemon movies came out and all those children in Japan seized during the movie, so photosensitive epilepsy is something that people worry about all the time. On all those video games there are those warnings that say, you know, you shouldn't play this game in case you have epilepsy, but only one specific type of epilepsy has photosensitivity to it and that's a generalized epilepsy. So that's when the whole brain turns on at once. Lights up all at once, there is a big burst of electricity through the whole brain. It's one of the reflex epilepsies. So kids with epilepsy, for the most part, can play video games and can go under strobe lights, unless they very specifically sieze when they are under strobe lights, and when we do the EEGs, when we do the tests of their brain waves we actually flash lights at them to see if it does create a siezure. So by doing the EEG and by flashing the lights in the child's eyes, and having the EEG running at the same time, we can conclusively tell families whether the children can play video games or not play video games and that will make a child very happy, hopefully, to find out that it's perfectly safe to play the video games and that they don't have photosensitive epilepsy. As well as the teenagers and the young adults that will call or text and say, can I go, we're going to a party, and I know there will be strobe lights, is that okay. So at least we have an answer for them after we do the initial EEG.

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