A medical expert, Professor Sola Ogunniyi, has warned that migraine and seizures may be the side effects of snapping selfie in some individuals.
Ogunniyi, a consultant neurologist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, stated that such side effects were electrical reactions in the brain to the flashing light from the smart phone.
According to him, some individuals have parts of their brain that are sensitive to light, and as such a flashing light, say from a smart phone, can trigger a reaction that manifests as migraine, headache and seizures.
The expert said it was because of the same phenomenon and reason television viewers were sometimes warned that a particular programme has flash photography.
“When there is electrical disturbance of the brain for those that are predisposed due to flashing light, it can manifest as migraine, normal headache. They can also have epileptic seizures.
“We usually advise people who have seizures to avoid staying close to computers because sometimes when there is a glare, it can also cause some problem.”
Epileptic seizures are triggered by a sudden interruption in the brain’s highly complex electro-chemical activity. And it can develop at any age.
In a recent case report from Canada, doctors saw seizure-like activity in a teen’s brainwaves just after the teen took a selfie. They were monitoring her to gather information about what was causing her seizures.
According to the report, which was published in February in the journal Seizure, the doctors who treated the teen called the phenomenon “selfie-epilepsy.”
The teen, a girl, had previously had a seizure. The seizure-like brain activity that was triggered by the selfie was discovered when the teen was being monitored in a laboratory for a three-day period.
Though the teen did not experience any seizures in the laboratory, doctors noticed two unusual spikes in her brain activity. When they went back and reviewed the video, they found that just before these spikes, the teen had used her cellphone to take a selfie with both the flash and red-eye reduction in the dimly lit room. (Red-eye reduction involves pulsing flashes of light before taking the photo.)
The doctors concluded that the teen likely had a “photosensitivity response” to the selfie.
In one type of epilepsy, called photosensitive epilepsy, people are known to have seizures that are provoked by flashing or flickering lights.
Photosensitive epilepsy is a “well-known phenomenon,” but it affects only a small percentage of people with epilepsy.
Any type of flashing, flickering, or shimmering light, including video games, camera lights, natural light and even visual patterns, can provoke a seizure in a photosensitive individual.
In the past, experts claimed selfies could cause wrinkles and self-image issues.
Dermatologists believe that regularly exposing the face to the light and electromagnetic radiation from cell phones can damage the skin, accelerating the ageing process.