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New photosensitive epilepsy guidelines issued

28 September, 2005

New recommendations for people with photosensitive epilepsy have been made by an Epilepsy Foundation of America (EFA) working group of epilepsy experts.

Published in the journal Epilepsia,
the recommendations are based on existing guidelines in the UK and
Japan and are the first published in the USA to be based on an expert
review of research on photosensitivity.

The working group, led by Professor Graham Harding of Aston University,
made recommendations covering aspects including light intensity,
flicker, contrast, duration and pattern, and the technical parameters
within these factors that are most likely to trigger seizures in
susceptible individuals.

The
group noted that children and young adults between the ages of seven
and 19 are five times more likely than the general population to have
photosensitive epilepsy.

In
a separate report, the EFA has issued recommendations for industry
concerning the technical characteristics of light and patterns that
might pose a risk to people who are photosensitive. There is no known
method to eliminate the risk of visually provoked seizures entirely
because of the great variability of what triggers seizures in different
individuals. Controlling these factors in video games is especially
difficult.

A spokesman for the EFA said:

'The
Epilepsy Foundation believes that seizures from visual stimulation
represent a significant public health problem. While the risk to
susceptible individuals cannot be eliminated by the current level of
knowledge, recent research of photosensitivity has resulted in the
accumulation of sufficient knowledge to develop educational programs
and procedures to substantially lower the risk for this type of
seizure.'