The Walt Disney Company, producers of the Star Wars franchise, and the Epilepsy Foundation, are warning movie-goers diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy to exercise caution if they choose to see the last installation in the series, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” The flashing lights could trigger a seizure.
“If you’re a patient with epilepsy and you know you have sensitivity to flashing lights, and there is a warning like this, I would just not go to that movie. That would be my advice,” suggests Dr. Gretchen Von Allmen, Chief of Pediatric Epilepsy with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and UT Physicians.
She describes epilepsy as a tendency for a person to have seizures that are not provoked by anything in particular, so they can happen out of the blue. There are different types, including photosensitivity, a specific type of trigger, as is sleep deprivation, illness or fever. “There are some movies and games that have flashing lights as part of the experience,” says Dr. Von Allmen, and suggests that most patients who have been diagnosed as vulnerable generally avoid triggers, especially when given advance warnings.
Should you be at a movie theater and a patron has a seizure, she suggests making sure they are laying on their side, and avoid their mouth as clenched teeth often occur. It usually passes within a minute or two and doesn’t necessarily require medical attention. If it continues for an extended time, call 9-1-1.