Prevention Strategies

To prevent or reduce seizures induced by video games, experts recommend: 

Monitor behavior and symptoms while playing: Notice if mood, alertness, behavior, or energy level tends to change after exposure, or if unexplained behaviors or physical symptoms develop. It may be difficult to elicit information from a child about symptoms of seizures, because seizures can produce sensations that may be frightening, or a child may not realize that certain symptoms—such as temporary distortions of vision—are not typical.


Abstinence: If playing certain types of video games consistently causes symptoms of seizure, your child should stay away from these games and from any other visual stimulus that brings on these symptoms. This is probably much easier said than done. Abstinence may be very hard to enforce, particularly when a child is not at home. A child may feel socially excluded if everyone at school talks about favorite games or gets together to play them after school. Computers are increasingly used in schools as part of instruction, which may mean that teachers need to devise alternate activities for students who are at risk for seizures at the computer.


Reduce the intensity of exposure: There are a number of recommendations for lowering the risk of photosensitive seizures while playing, including:


·         sit at a distance of at least 3 times the width of the screen

·         use a small screen so that the images fill less of the field of vision

·         play in a well lit room

·         take frequent breaks

·         avoid playing when tired or sleep deprived

·         cover one eye if symptoms suggest a seizure may be imminent


Anticonvulsant drugs: Drugs used for seizure prevention may decrease susceptibility to seizures or the severity of seizures when they occur. With visually induced seizures, however, drug treatment is typically not sufficient for seizure prevention, and these drugs can have a number of unwanted side effects.


Protective lenses: Special blue cross-polarized lenses devised by researchers for people with photosensitive epilepsy have been shown to be extremely effective in blocking or reducing the epileptic effect of patterns and flashing lights. These Z1 lenses are not easily available in North America, but the manufacturer (Zeiss) may be able to put you in touch with an optometrist who can order them.  For links to studies on protective lenses, click here.

Compliance with safety guidelines:
Visual material can be analyzed for flashes, colors, and patterns to ensure the images comply with scientific guidelines for reducing the chance of seizures. In the UK and Japan, television broadcasters are required to ensure the material they broadcast is tested for compliance with these guidelines, and any sequences likely to cause seizures are eliminated or altered prior to broadcast. In December 2008 video game manufacturers in the UK agreed to test their video game images for seizure safety prior to release. In the USA there is no such requirement for broadcast TV or video games.