Certain visual patterns and flashing images can provoke seizures in susceptible individuals, particularly among children and adolescents. Some media reports on the recent introduction of 3D-television sets suggest that this new technology may cause seizures in some viewers. Children who have epilepsy are somewhat more vulnerable to the provocative stimuli than their peers. But there has been no systematic examination of the potential effects 3D-TV may have on patients with epilepsy.
In the first reported study of 3D-TV and children with epilepsy, researchers at the University of Munich, Germany and the University of Salzburg, Austria, exposed 140 consecutive young patients (median age 12) to a standard test for photosensitivity, called photo-paroxysmal stimulation, and to 15 minutes of 3D-TV viewing. The viewing was on a 50” 3D-Plasma TV with 3D shutter glasses at a distance of about two meters (approx. six and one-half feet). Responses to the two forms of stimulation were recorded on an EEG and evaluated by two independent professionals.
“In our cohort of children with a risk of epilepsy or with known epilepsy fifteen minutes of 3D television viewing did not increase epileptiform activity on EEG, nor were there any apparent seizures,” says lead author Herbert Plischke. “We conclude that the chance for people with undiagnosed epilepsy to have an epileptic seizure provoked by 3D-TV is unlikely.”
Seizures that are provoked by television appear not to be a matter of technology, according to the investigators, but a matter of content, for example, color, contrast, pattern, and flicker, independent of whether the viewing medium is a 2D- or 3D-TV. A significant number of patients (20%) did present with other symptoms like nausea, headache and dizziness.
Material adapted from American Epilepsy Society (AES).