Any animation or superhero fan would have not missed the Incredibles 2 movie that was released this month. So, how was your experience? Nowadays, wishing for a theater experience is no joke as people are forced to spend hundreds or even thousands of rupees to enjoy the luxuries of plush seats, buttery popcorns, Dolby sound effect and of course the movie (hoping that it’s good!). After paying so much, how would you like to be affected by health problems instead of an enjoyable movie experience? The new Disney-Pixar movie contains scenes that have strobe lights flashing continuously for anywhere between a few seconds to a more than a minute which might seriously affect people with photosensitive epilepsy and cause seizures.
Fans worldwide have posted warnings on their social media accounts cautioning people about the flashing light scenes. It would have been better if Disney could have released the movie with a warning tag on all its digital releases and social media channels. As a response to theatre-goers’ concerns, most theatres displayed notices warning audiences about the movie’s visual effects. Before these precautionary steps, an unlucky few experienced seizures while some of them sat through the movie either closing their eyes or simply wishing for it to end despite its remarkable plot and screenplay.
Parents and all individuals alike have the right to make decisions of watching/not watching the movie based on warning notes. It is unfair to shock the audience in between the screening of the movie with such effects. It is mandatory that the movie should have carried the warning sign at the ticket window.
Almost 50 million people living across the world suffer from epilepsy, a common neurological disease, according to the World Health Organization. A chronic disorder of the brain, it is characterized by repeated seizures involving a part of the body or the entire body. A seizure is a sudden increase in electrical activity in the brain which can change the way a person feels or behaves. This is only a symptom of a disease and not a disease by itself. For more details on epilepsy, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. Photosensitive epilepsy is when people are affected by seizures due to flashing lights/interchanging light and dark patterns. Almost 1 in 100 people has epilepsy and of these individuals, 3% suffer from photosensitive epilepsy. It is mostly children and young people who suffer from this condition and it is less common among those aged 20 and above. This more strongly emphasizes on the need for a warning note about the strong flashing lights as Incredibles 2 is a movie loved more by children and young adults. Also, even people without epilepsy can be sensitive to such flashy strobe lights that can even cause migraine or headache.
Most people can realize that they suffer from photosensitive epilepsy when they suffer from seizures on exposure to flashing lights or patterns. An EEG can also help to diagnose the disease. Here, a technician flashes lights at different speeds and looks for changes in brain activities. If there are clues of any deviations from normal activities, he/she stops the test before seizure strikes the patient.
A simple light flash will not trigger a seizure and the rates should be anywhere between 3 and 30 hertz (flashes per second) to trigger one. But, these rates too vary from person to person-some people might be sensitive at frequencies up to 60 hertz but we mostly don’t find people going below the minimum frequency limit, that is below 3 hertz to experience a seizure.
What Kind of Light Triggers A Seizure?
Very strong lights, repeated flashing, flickering or patterned effects can make anyone feel uncomfortable, disoriented or unwell. Hence, we cannot conclude that all these people suffer from photosensitive epilepsy.
Tiredness, stress or excitement increase the risk of photosensitive epilepsy. Playing video games continuously, sunlight through curtain blinds, structures that create repetitive patterns as you move past them (for example, escalators and railings), screens that constantly show flickering light, fireworks that can cause flashing images, cameras that have multiple flashes and strobe lights at parties or nightclubs enhance the risk of photosensitive epilepsy. It is always better to sit far away from TV screens, avoid playing video games continuously and take breaks from the screen to reduce the risk of photosensitive epilepsy.
It is necessary to note that this is not the first time that children-content videos contained potential threat to cause seizures. In 1997, one of the episodes of ‘Pokemon’ aired with flashing lights sent almost 700 children who were suffering from nausea, vomiting, convulsions and headaches to hospitals.
Whatever it is, if you are a superhero fan who is not troubled by any of the things mentioned above, you can surely watch the movie which even has Bollywood actress Kajol lending her voice for Elasticgirl, the superhero mum.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.