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Study: Strobe lights at shows linked to risk of epileptic fits

Photo Credit: Rukes

Research has found that strobe lighting at festivals is linked to tripling the risk of epileptic fits in partygoers. Don’t get us wrong, we live for the lasers! However, data published by an online journal, BMJ Open, shows us that the risk is real.

The data comes from one company who provided medical services to nearly all music festivals during 2015 in The Netherlands. Some 241,543 people attended nighttime gigs and 158,800 attended daytime gigs (where the lighting was less intense). Medical assistance was provided on 2,776 occasions, and in 39 cases it was an epileptic seizure; 30 of which happened during the night. The risk of a seizure associated with a nighttime event was 3.5 times greater than that of a daytime event.

The team, led by Newel Salet of the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam, writes in BMJ Open stating that other factors could be at play. From sleep deprivation to substance abuse it’s tough to tell if stroboscopic lights are fully at fault. In an interview with BBC News, Mr. Salet speaks more on attendee’s unawareness of their predisposition of epilepsy.

“If a person has no predisposition for epilepsy, then factors like strobe lighting will not have any effect. However, most people are unaware of this predisposition they might have: more than a couple of cases explicitly reported this to be the first time they experienced an epileptic fit.”

The best precautionary measures to take are to get enough sleep and to avoid drugs. Keep a safe distance from the stage and to leave quickly if you experience any prodromal ‘aura’ effects. As always, if you see something, say something! Keeping the good vibes going is always the goal.

Do organizers have a responsibility to warn attendees if they will be using strobe lights? Let us know what you think at Facebook and Twitter!

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