June 1962

Photosensitivity in a Family

Author Affiliations

James F. Schwartz, M.D., 710 W. 168th St., New York 32.; From the Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine and Pediatrics Service of Grace-New Haven Community Hospital.

Am J Dis Child. 1962;103(6):786-793. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1962.02080020803008

This is a report of the occurrence of seizures or their equivalents induced by photic stimuli in a family of 5, one of whom, a 14-year-old girl, was the first to suggest the proper etiological common denominator for her own convulsive manifestations and for the less overt incidents in other members of the family.

Visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli have long been implicated as precipitating causes of convulsive attacks. "The use of flame, or a very bright light obtained from flame has an agitating effect. In fact, when a case of epilepsy is in its quiescent stage, the untimely use of light with its sharp penetrating action may cause the recurrence of an attack." So wrote Soranus in the second century, as paraphrased by Caelius Aurelianus in the fifth century.1 In medical literature, Gowers,2 in 1881, is credited as the first to describe a patient whose seizures occurred

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