What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a disorder in the brain that causes a person to have seizures.
About 3 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with some sort of epilepsy, and one in 10 people will have a seizure at some point in their lives.
Epilepsy does not always present in the same way, and is different for everyone. While some people may have frequent Tonic-Clonic (Grand Mal) seizures, which consist of losing consciousness and shaking, other people may have seizures that cause them to blink rapidly or "space out". To learn more about types of seizures, click here.
Are all people with epilepsy sensitive to flashing lights?
Not all people with epilepsy have sensitivity to light.
Epilepsy is different for everyone. People with epilepsy each have different "triggers" (things that cause a seizure), and some have no triggers at all.
What does "photosensitive" mean?
"Photosensitive" simply means that a person is sensitive to particular types of light.
The most common example is strobe lights, or aggressively flashing lights. This doesn't always mean the person has epilepsy if they have an adverse reaction to these lights. For example, they can also trigger migraines.
Not quite! While closing your eyes may dull the sensitivity, the rapid on-and-off of some lights may still trigger a seizure.
Try this: close your eyes and cover them with your hands. Even though you can't see color or detail, you can still sense changes in light, and how rapid those changes are.
Can't people who are photosensitive just close their eyes or wear sunglasses?
For 2 out of 3 people, the cause of epilepsy is unknown.
In some cases, people develop epilepsy after a traumatic brain injury or other illness. Epilepsy is also known to be genetic.
You cannot catch epilepsy! No need to worry.
How do you develop epilepsy? Is it contagious?
Just make sure the information about lighting is available before the show starts!
Chat with a person in charge or someone working the gig to see if any lighting has been planned, and if so, whether or not it may be dangerous for people with epilepsy.
Even if a show has minimal lighting, post a sign saying that it's safe! Lets normalize having signage around venues about this!