Department of Neurology

Should a single photoconvulsive seizure be treated?

Q: A boy 17 years old sensitive to flickering light had a single seizure 4 years ago as a result of flickers in a party. Since then he had no seizure and has been on no treatment except avoiding parties with flickering lights . Now he is going to take some drive lessons before receiving a driver's license. The question is: What are the limitations, if any? Is it necessary for him to start taking medication because of that?

Thank you very much

A: What you describe is in the gray zone. We usually do not treat persons after a single seizure. However, photosensitivity is usually lifelong. Although his first seizure occurred under somewhat unusual conditions, it may be a matter of time when he is exposed to flashing lights again. Things like sunlight passing through a picket fence while driving could conceivably trigger a seizure.

You should review his situation carefully with a neurologist or epileptologist. They may wish to repeat his EEG, with strobe light stimulation, and review his prior history, in order to make the best recommendations.


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