Idiopathic Photosensitive Occipital Lobe Epilepsy


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. R. Guenini at Institute of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Via dei Giancinti 2, 56018 Calambrone, Pisa, Italy.


Summary: We studied 10 neurologically normal patients (8 females, 2 males) aged 8–30 years (mean 17 years) who had recurrent episodes of visually induced occipital seizures. Television and computer screens were the main triggers. Seizure onset occurred between the ages of 5 and 17 years (mean 11 years). All seizures were stimulus related and began with elementary visual symptoms, followed in most patients by a slow clustering of cephalicpain, epigastric discomfort, and vomiting, with either normal or only mildly impaired responsiveness. EEG fea-tures included normal background activity, occipital spikes and waves, and a photoparoxysmal response which could be occipital, generalized, or both. Four pa-tients also showed spontaneous generalized epileptiform abnormalities, and 3 had rolandic spikes. An Oz electrode was critical in identifying epileptiform activity in some patients. Complete seizure control was achieved in most patients with monotherapy, although occasional stimulus-related seizures occurred in 3 patients who showed a wider range of photosensitivity. These patients have an idiopathic localization-related epilepsy with age-related onset and specific mode of precipitation. Although this type of epilepsy has been reported previously, it has remained underrecognized, probably because it is difficult to differentiate clinically from migraine or from nonreflex childhood idiopathic occipital epilepsy.