A Chinese academic has warned that an unusual type of epilepsy, characterized
by seizures triggered by flashing or flickering lights, is becoming more
prevalent among young people.
Photosensitive epilepsy, though uncommon, is affecting people aged between 8
and 20 in China, said Professor Qin Jiong from No 1 Hospital of Peking
University at a meeting in Beijing.
Qin blamed the increased prevalence on numerous hours spent by young people
watching TV and playing video games. The flickering light from monitors can
trigger photosensitive epilepsy.
Statistics show that about 6 million people in China suffer from epilepsy.
Experts estimate that about 3 to 5 percent of people with epilepsy are
Both artificial and natural light sources that stimulate the eyes might be a
problem for people with photosensitive epilepsy.
For example, camera flashes, strobe lights in discos and sunlight shining off
wet surfaces or through tree leaves could all trigger seizures.
Experts said that about 30 percent of photosensitive epileptic patients can
control their seizures by taking drugs.
Prevention measures in the home and office include installing filter screens
in front of TV and computer monitors, watching TV at a safe distance and using
soft lighting, experts said.
Experts called for an end to social discrimination against epileptics, saying
that even if epileptics suffer temporary mental disorders they are usually
The Ministry of Health said in June last year that more than two-thirds of
epileptic patients in rural China had not received treatment that could allow
them to lead a normal life.
China plans to expand a pilot project in 80 counties to improve the treatment
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder and symptoms range from minor lapses of
attention to severe and prolonged convulsions and loss of consciousness. Many
cases are caused by an underlying brain disease or injury, but children often
develop the condition for no obvious reason.
Worldwide clinical research shows that about 70 percent
of epileptics can control their seizures by taking anti-epilepsy drugs, and up
to 60 percent of them can be treated in two to five years and lead a normal