LED lighting and Epilepsy

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I don't have epilepsy. I'm a lighting engineer and am interested in the effect of LED lighting on people who have epilepsy. I had not heard this was a problem until I spoke to a man yesterday whose wife is dramatically effected by both LED lighting and modern fluorescent lighting. I would like to ask others on this site if they have ever experienced similar symptoms.

There is a great push by the Department of Energy and the lighting industry to adopt LED lighting. LEDs are by nature monochromatic light. A polychromatic "white" light is created, generally, by shining a blue LED through a phosphor impregnated epoxy cap that's formed over the diode. It has already been shown that the particular wavelength produced by blue LEDs (460-480nm) can have an effect on the circadian system and the regulation of melatonin production by the pituitary gland. I was curious to know if people with epilepsy experience a negative effect from this type of lighting.

Additionally, modern fluorescent fixtures are designed to operate at frequencies greater than 50,000 cycles per second (Hz). The old style fluorescents were designed to operate at 60 Hz. this is the frequency of the nation wide power system in the US and is, coincidentally the natural frequency of the human body's electrical system. I can understand how the old style fluorescents would be a problem for someone with epilepsy. I was wondering if the newer style fluorescent lighting is still a problem. (You can recognize the newer fluorescents by the skinny light bulbs used in the fixture).

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me make my designs more user friendly.
Welcome to the forum! I'm very glad you found us. It would improve a lot of lives if lights were no longer a trigger for people with a seizure disorder.

Lighting is an interesting topic. Not all people with seizures are photosensitive. Some are, some aren't. And those that are can all be set off my different frequencies or types of lights.

For some reason I have a huge amount of trouble in some of the big stores like target, Ikea, and walmart. I have no trouble with the lighting in most department stores like Macys. I do have trouble with it being visually busy. It makes me get in and out very quickly or it will be a trigger.

I have fluorescent lights at home and have no problem whatsoever. I wonder if it is the type of bulb, or if it is because they are behind a shade. If the shade has something to do with it, that has possibilities to make it more tolerable.

For me it doesn't have to be lighting. Ceiling fans at exactly the right speed can set me off. Also certain patterns in fabric, art, etc.

I've tried sunglasses. It helps some people. Doesn't help me. Bathing light in some kind of filter may possibly help some.

I think it would take some trial and error. Maybe passive measurement. Keep track of any seizures that happen when exposed to the lighting solution in question, and ccompare the numbers between lighting types. That is, if you have an experimental building and population you can use. It's hard to identify photosensitive people - you usually can't ask that question in the workplace. If you knew who they are you could ask them if they feel "weird" around certain lights or lighting solutions. Many of us that are photosensitve get that "weird" feeling when exposed to trigger lighting.

Approximately 1 in 100 people has epilepsy. Three to 5 percent of people with epilepsy are photosensitive. Keep in mind that of those 3-5%, each may be triggered by a different frequency. That sould give you an idea on sample size. Big.

Use the search function to find all the posts that refer to lighting. There is a wealth of information on this site if you know what you are searching for.
I think only a small percentage of individuals with epilepsy are photosensitive -- my son recently began having seizures triggered by different sorts of lights -- he has had epilepsy most of his life, but in the past they were usually nocturnal seizures, and only recently (past several months) developed these "light sensitive" seizures (other things also trigger seizures for him -- like drinking cold water, being in front of a fan, etc.)

Anyway, the stuff you said was way over my head technically speaking. But my understanding is that photosensitive seizures are generally more affected by a flickering kind of light or even by patterns or lines or contrast. But these are the sort of "light" triggers for our son's epilepsy:

1) As mentioned above, the bright lights in stores like Walmart. These don't seem to trigger a convulsive sort of seizure, but they get him extremely agitated so that he goes into what we call "autistic mode"-- where he'll get all rigid, and make repetitive grunting sounds.

2) Tonic seizures (the kind where he'll scream out several times then get extremely stiff, and sometimes some light convulsions) have been triggered by:
- TV -- particularly if he is standing right in front of the screen, or if he is looking at a big screen TV. He has also had seizures at the same point in one of his favorite videos.(perhaps something to do with the color or contrast)

3) Light reflecting off water -- such as the sunlight on the lake, or the puddles on the balcony.

4) Very bright "display" sort of lights -- like what they have over the jewelry counters in the mall. He will fixate on these sorts of lights.

5) Christmas tree lights -- they seem to be ok if they're not too flashy and in a well-lighted room, but if the room is dim or dark, then they can trigger a seizure, even the fibre-optic kind (that are built into the fake tree) that just sort of have this glowy pattern.

6) There's a kind of lighting that's frequently used here in Bangkok -- it's these twisty light bulbs in a recessed ceiling fixture. Anyway, these twisty light bulbs tend to be pretty bright -- we have some in our home -- and they seem to trigger seizures.

Yes, LED effect people with seizures and people without. I have to schools on my driving route with LED signs.I had yo call to get them to stop flashing info at us
They slowed there signs down, but it only makes it a little better.
Car LED lights I hate them. If I having a so so day these lights can put me in seizure mode and the day is blown or I have to have a friend drive. Those car LED lights are going to force me to stop driving. Do u what an epileptic behind your fancy car lights having a seizure right up your cars ass. Then is the auto industry going to pay for my drivers?
Store lights another story. Went to pick up medicine from pharmacy and they had not filled it yet, dropped of day before, because they wanted my insurance info. They did nit call like they said they would due if any issues. Then since my crappy insurance only takes $3 off they asked if I wanted it filled.then they took 30 filling it..in fact it did nit get filled until I bitches about there stupidity having an epileptic stand underthere lights for 30 minutes when I am epileptic. I have yo drive home and no one called me and warned me of issues.
Yes LED effect epileptics!
I am not photosensitive, but Hubs had a coworker whose complex partial seizures were triggered by the florescent lights in the store. He wore sunglasses while at work, and that stopped the lights from bothering him most of the time, but he ended up seeking work elsewhere.
I think hearing somewhere that lighting is a problem with some has been a greater problem for me than the lighting itself. Since hearing of issues I've been paranoid regarding certain lighting situations, but have never known of a direct correlation.
I think the dark blue LEDs look really weird. Almost a black-light effect. It must be their wavelength.
I think there are others on this site who would have a better perspective than myself of photosensitivity as a trigger.
I'm a sound guy for stuff like concerts, I haven't been diagnosed as photosensitive but, I notice that brighter lights in dark environments effect my ability to think clearly or concentrate, LED lights at full light on the right color or just white light can be a trigger for se folk if they are flashing or changing at the right speed, I'm careful around them, been on stages with them for several years, a few times they may have triggered an absence seizure, I don't know, ive learned to try not to look at lights, or wear hats.
Kinda like a sun visor they keep the light from shining straight into my eyes.

I find the lighting at WalMart to be a really big trigger for a lot of ppl (both on CWE and other epilepsy sites). Although I'm not photosensitive, the lighting at Wal Mart gives me a bad headache so I can only stay in there for a short time. (others have said the same thing).
Although I'm from Canada, the type of lighting must be the same as in the U.S.
This would become a problem for me if I didn't take my B vitamins (mainly vitamin B6) as I become highly Photosensitive.

Around three in every 100 people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy.


I have a rare type of vitamin B6 Dependent Epilepsy.

Here is my story posted 02-20-2011: http://www.coping-with-epilepsy.com/forums/f23/40-years-vitamin-b6-11674/

Pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy occurs in 1 in 100,000 to 700,000 individuals. At least 100 cases have been reported worldwide.


Pyridoxal 5'-phosphate-dependent epilepsy is a rare condition; approximately 14 cases have been described in the scientific literature.


I also have Dyslexia and Asperger's Syndrome.

While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.

Here is a list of famous people with epilepsy:


Here is a list of famous people with Dyslexia:


Here is a list of famous people with Asperger's Syndrome:



Some vitamins may interfere with certain antiepileptic drugs:



A high dose of vitamin B6 may cause Peripheral Neuropathy.

I'm not photosensitive, so flickering lights have never caused a seizure for me, but I'd always assumed the flicker of LED's is too fast to have an effect. I definitely notice the slower operation frequency in a room that is lit with only LED lights- if you turn your head fast everything looks fragmented while your head is in movement.
This is interesting, though. I haven't been to this board in a while so I may have missed any conversations on this matter.
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Nobody in my house has epilepsy, but I observed something odd with my 13-year-old cat.

I installed 5 regular LED bulbs (760 lumens each) on a chandelier in my dining room. I realized it is was on a dimmer switch and that the LED lights were saying "do not install on a dimmer switch." I was planning to change the switch the next day, when I could turn off the main with nobody in the house. Howerver, the lights did not seem to flicker when the switch was in the high position of the dimmer switch.

My wife had been working under the new lights for over one hour, with the cat on her lap, when for the first time, the cat got a epilepsy-like seizure.

Is it just a coincidence or is there a correlation between seizures and LED+dimmer?
If there is a correlation, then cats may be a good biological models for research.
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I have photosensitivity but I haven't paid much attention to the type of light. I know florescent lights bother me but I didn't realize there's more than one kind.
I have photosensitive epileptic seizures. LED lights do cause me problems. It is the polychromatic light in particular that causes me problems. Fluorescents also cause me problems, particularly if the transformer is not quite right. This is true of both the old and the new.

Flashing LED lights in particularly cause me problems, as do flickering fluorescents. I have gone back to using some incandescents, even though I prefer less energy usage with LEDs and fluorescents. I also have to be careful with incandescents to make sure they are not too close to my head. They have smaller EMFs.

Shaded lights, indirect lighting, and shrouded lighting all help me.

It helps me to provide extra grounding to all lighting that uses transformers, as the EMFs from transformers causes me problems.

Non molecular photons (ie. the sun included) cause me problems, as well as lighting which involves a chemical reaction, like fluorescents, as the charged ions are not necessarily contained by the phosphor coated tubing. The higher up the lighting, the better, in terms of my reactivity to it, when it comes to man made lighting.

With the sun, it is the angle that directly influences my reactivity to it.

Automobile LEDs cause me problems, but I have learned just not to look at it.

The phosphors that make LEDs not quite as white are better for me. They are less likely to excite the rods and cones in the back of our eyes which generate the electrical signals in the optic nerve. The fewer action potentials, the better, for epileptics.
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I am photosensitive. Being in stores like Walmart, Target and similar places that have fluorescent lighting make me feel uncomfortable. Flashing or flickering light can be a trigger. A ceiling fan with lighting behind it while the fan is running is a trigger. In most cases I've had to look away from LED lights because they can be a trigger for me.

Windshield wipers, repeating sounds (like the guitar riff at the end of Ramblin' Man) can set me off. I even had a seizure back in the '80s watching "The Flash" on TV because he was spinning.
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