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'Incredibles 2': Theaters issue seizure warning for Disney/Pixar flick

Incredibles 2 Theaters issue seizure warning for Disney-Pixar flick

WARNING: Video contains a few seconds of flashing light.

Moviegoers, local theaters and the Epilepsy Foundation are all issuing warnings that viewers with a certain type of epilepsy could be at risk if they see Incredibles 2.

The warning comes after people posted concerns on social media that a few scenes involving one of the film's villains, Screenslaver, could trigger people with photosensitive epilepsy because it contains a series of bright flashing lights. Only about 3 percent of epileptics have it.

"It's really only related to people that are susceptible but unfortunately, photosensitive epilepsy is something that can occur in children when they get to a certain age," said Dr. Jacqueline French, the Epilepsy Foundation's chief scientific officer. "They may not know they have photosensitive epilepsy because they've never been exposed to flashing lights like that before."

The frequency and intensity of the flashing lights increase the potential of triggering a seizure. Dr. French said people are the most sensitive in a range between 10 and 30 flashes a second.

"The more intense the light, the more likely those flashes are going to cause a problem," she said. "If you happen to have a sequence where lights are flashing at that particular frequency, they may be more of a problem than brighter light that doesn't flash or have the right frequency."

The Epilepsy Foundation issued a statement Saturday and announced that it had contacted the Walt Disney Company to suggest it issue a warning, but it's unclear if the appearance of posted warnings in theaters across the country was a directive from the company. According to USA Today, Disney directed theaters Friday to start posting the warning.

Dr. Arayamparambil Anilkumar, a pediatric neurologist at the University of Missouri Children's Hospital, pointed out that in the late 1990's, the new "Pokemon" movie sent hundreds of children to the hospital after a scene that featured red and blue flashing lights. Many of them were not previously diagnosed with seizures and epilepsy. 

"After that, there was a trend among the movie and video game producers to reduce the impact of flashing lights and patent sensitivity in people who are susceptible to this," he said.

Dr. French said that this could revitalize the awareness that the "Pokemon" movie inspired following the incident.

"I'm sure this will then increase people's awareness that they need to consider the type of flashing light, and warn appropriately or try to avoid the frequency that will cause problems," she said. 

Dr. Anilkumar recommends that  people already diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy avoid seeing the movie, but others who aren't but feel uncomfortable can close one eye or even leave the theater.

"Closing eyes will not really prevent it," he said. 


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