It’s almost the time of year for sparklers, fireworks and bonfires.
While most of us are able to tuck into our toffee apples and enjoy the light displays without a second thought, for some people with epilepsy it isn’t quite so simple.
Those who have photosensitive epilepsy may be affected by Bonfire night.
Photosensitive epilepsy is a rare form of epilepsy. With this kind of epilepsy, seizures are triggered by flashing lights (between 3 and 60 flashes per second) or contrasting light and dark patterns.
The high frequency of flashes caused by the fireworks, against the dark background of the November night sky, combined with often standing very close to the display, can be enough to trigger a seizure.
This is most likely to occur at the end of a fireworks display, when lots of fireworks are set off at the same time.
This article provides tips on how people with photosensitive epilepsy can still enjoy Bonfire night…

1. Although it’s tempting to stand close to the display, it’s important to stand a good distance away from the fireworks.
If the flashing lights of the fireworks take up your whole field of vision, this makes it more likely you will have a seizure.
To be safe, stand further away so that the display only reaches to no more than half of the sky in your field of your vision.

2. It is important that you take your medication properly the day before and the day of Bonfire night. This will reduce your chances of having a seizure as a result of watching the fireworks.

3. Tiredness and lack of sleep are common seizure triggers and can make seizures more likely to occur in all types of epilepsy. To avoid having a seizure, make sure you get enough sleep in the run up to Bonfire night.

4. During the final part of the firework display, cover one eye. This reduces the amount of visual information getting to the brain and can help to prevent seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy.
If you start to feel the symptoms of a seizure whilst watching a fireworks display, you should quickly cover both eyes as this can stop the seizure from developing.

5. Wearable epileptic seizure detection devices are a possible solution to consider for bonfire night. Devices such as the Empatica Embrace Watch – available exclusively in the UK at – will detect a seizure when it happens and alerts others around so they can provide assistance.

We hope that have you a safe and amazing bonfire night!

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