Strobe Light Effects On Humans

Strobe lights are used in dance clubs, at parties and even on the backs of school buses and police vehicles. Video games and computer games often have flashing lights that mimic a strobe light, giving the same effect of stilted movement through flashes of light. Many people worry about what effects these strobe lights can have on humans.

History

With the rise of strobe lights in the 1980s, rumors that they caused problems also arose. Claims of nausea, dizziness, seizures and even deaths began to circulate. Not all of these claims have a basis in truth, and the majority of people (over 90 percent) do not have serious adverse reactions to strobe lights.

Significance

Even while serious side effects on humans are rare, it is recommended that you limit your exposure to strobe lights due to the possibility of discomfort and disorientation.

Nausea and Vomiting

While not everyone experiences vomiting from viewing a strobe light, the nausea that some people feels is enough that one company created the LED Incapacitator, a tool for police to use to subdue criminals. The belief is that the strobe effect of the tool will be unpleasant enough to force the suspect to shut his or her eyes or feel enough nausea to stop.

Dizziness

Dizziness and disorientation are often side effects of viewing a strobe light for extended periods of time.

Seizures

While seizures can occur, the majority of people who suffer from seizures as an effect of strobe lights already have epilepsy. Further tests revealed that those with photosensitive epilepsy are most likely to be affected. Approximately 3 percent of epileptics are photosensitive.

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Prevention/Solution

Although not a perfect solution, to help avoid the risks associated with strobe lights, you can cover one eye during exposure. This works better than closing your eyes or looking away from the lights.

Warning

Even if you have no history of epileptic seizures, your epilepsy may be triggered by the flashing strobe light. If you think you’ve suffered from a seizure due to exposure to a strobe light, contact your doctor immediately or go to your local emergency room.