Seizure Risk Low for Children Watching 3D Television

Allison Shelley

December 05, 2011

December 5, 2011 (Baltimore, Maryland) — First evidence suggests that new 3-dimensional (3D) home entertainment systems are not dangerous for young people with epilepsy.

"The new technology is very unlikely to cause harm," coauthor Gerhard Kluger, MD, from Schön Klinik in Vogtareuth, Germany, told Medscape Medical News, although he cautioned that the results of the study are preliminary and could change with a larger sample and more time in front of the television.

One 3D television manufacturer, Samsung, has issued a precautionary warning about the risk. "Some viewers may experience an epileptic seizure or stroke when exposed to flashing images or lights contained in certain television pictures or video games," the company states.

The new technology is very unlikely to cause harm.

However, first results presented here at the American Epilepsy Society (AES) 65th Annual Meeting are reassuring.

Investigators looked at 150 children at risk for epilepsy, including 84 with documented seizures. Only 1 patient had a seizure shortly after watching television.

The mean age for the participants was 12 years, and the researchers plan to continue recruiting to about 500 children.

Although the new technology does not appear to heighten seizure risk, many of the children in this study watching a 50-inch 3D plasma television with shutter glasses did not like them. A large number, 17%, reported nausea, headache, and dizziness.

Table. Reactions to Stimulation (n = 150)

Outcome Photostimulation 3D Television
Photoparoxysmal reactions 15 0
Photic driving 4 0
Seizure 0 1
Epileptiform activity 0 3
Other unwanted effects 15 26

Three patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy showed an increase in epileptiform activity, but no clinical signs or discomfort and no subclinical seizures.

Seizures provoked by television do not appear to be associated with the technology, according to investigators, but with content such as color, contrast, pattern, and flicker, which are factors that can be problematic on any television.

In September, another research team reporting in Seizure also claimed that the risk of triggering an event is not greater with 3D technologies than regular television.

"We suggest removing 3D glasses when watching conventional [television] to prevent the eyes from picking up flicker," noted the group, led by Michaella Prasad, MD, from Nottingham University Hospitals in the United Kingdom.

"It's very important that we don't overly restrict children with epilepsy," Dr. Kluger said. "They need to do as much as possible and enjoy normal lives."

The investigators have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

American Epilepsy Society (AES) 65th Annual Meeting: Abstract 2.100. Presented December 4, 2011.

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