Idiopathic photosensitive occipital lobe epilepsy

Epilepsia. 1995 Sep;36(9):883-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1995.tb01631.x.


We studied 10 neurologically normal patients (8 females, 2 males) aged 8-30 years (mean 17 years) who had recurrent episodes if visually induced occipital seizures. Television and computer screens were the main triggers. Seizure onset occurred between the ages of 5 and 17 years (mean 11 years). All seizures were stimulus related and began with elementary visual symptoms, followed in most patients by a slow clustering of cephalic pain, epigastric discomfort, and vomiting, with either normal of only mildly impaired responsiveness. EEG features included normal background activity, occipital spikes and waves, and a photoparoxysmal response which could be occipital, generalized, or both. Four patients also showed spontaneous generalized epileptiform abnormalities, and 3 had rolandic spikes. An Oz electrode was critical in identifying epileptiform activity in some patients. Complete seizure control was achieved in most patients with monotherapy, although occasional stimulus-related seizures occurred in 3 patients who showed a wider range of photosensitivity. These patients have an idiopathic localization-related epilepsy with age-related onset and specific mode of precipitation. Although this type of epilepsy has been reported previously, it has remained underrecognized, probably because it is difficult to differentiate clinically from migraine or from nonreflex childhood idiopathic occipital epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computers
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Lighting
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Occipital Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Play and Playthings
  • Prognosis
  • Television
  • Time Factors