Sunflower syndrome is a form of photosensitive epilepsy. This form of photosensitive epilepsy is also a rare form of epilepsy, usually affecting children aged between 3 and 10 years, which affects girls more than boys, and is associated with tension and anxiety. Sunflower syndrome is characterized by seizures caused by electric currents in the brain, but the pathophysiology and etiology of sunflower syndrome is not known with certainty at this time. Sunflower syndrome tends to be chronic and requires lifetime treatment.
Sunflower syndrome occurs when it is triggered by flashing lights or light that forms contrasting patterns of light and dark. Sunflower syndrome can occur when someone who is in front of a very bright light source, such as the sun, waves in front of their face. The existence of a flickering pattern that arises from waving in front of the face can trigger seizures. Seizures can also occur in someone who is watching television at close range and repeatedly opening and closing their eyes, with the television channel being changed rapidly.
The seizures that occur in sunflower syndrome can take the form of myoclonic seizures. Tonic-clonic seizures can occur, but rarely, usually following the absence or occurrence of myoclonic seizures. Myoclonic seizures are characterized by an attack of a muscle or group of muscles that jerks for a short period of time, usually within one second, like a brief shock. In contrast to tonic-clonic seizures that last longer, usually 1 to 3 minutes. Tonic-clonic seizures occur preceded by muscle stiffness, loss of consciousness, and the appearance of crying or moaning due to air being forced through the vocal cords. This is followed by a quick and rhythmic jerking of the feet and hands, bending and relaxing the elbows, hips, and knees. The jerking will slow down after a few minutes, followed by return of consciousness, slowly.
Sunflower syndrome can be diagnosed using an EEG (electroencephalogram). The EEG in children with sunflower syndrome appears abnormal, indicating generalized spike wave discharges that are seen primarily during self-induced seizure events and can also be seen during photic (light) stimulation.
Sunflower syndrome treatment can use anti-seizure drugs and special glasses. Medication are often used are valproic acid (valproic acid) and levetiracetam. However, it is necessary to consult a doctor about the potential problems that may arise during pregnancy if the drug used is valproic acid. Other drugs that are also used are clobazam, clonazepam, topiramate. Anti-anxiety medications can also be used in combination with anti-seizure medications if sunflower syndrome is associated with anxiety. The special glasses used are glasses that use blue lenses.
Immediately consult a neurologist if you find someone around you who experiences seizure symptoms such as sunflower syndrome to minimize the negative effects that may arise due to sunflower syndrome in the future.
Medical Affairs (DP)
Geenen, KR., Patel, S., Thiele, S. Sunflower syndrome: a poorly understood photosensitive epilepsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 2020.