Flashing lights in 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' prompt epilepsy warning

People who are sensitive to lights should take precautions if they plan to watch the movie, the Epilepsy Foundation says.
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" features Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn.
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" features Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn.Lucasfilm

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/ Source: TODAY
By A. Pawlowski

Warning: The upcoming film “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” may trigger a seizure in some people with epilepsy.

Walt Disney Studios, which is releasing the movie on Dec. 20, has asked the Epilepsy Foundation to help spread the word that certain fans should “use caution” when watching the sci-fi blockbuster.

“The film contains several sequences with imagery and sustained flashing lights that may affect those with photosensitive epilepsy,” the non-profit agency said in a statement.

“We thank Disney for reaching out to us and proactively providing information to movie theatres and moviegoers in advance of the movie’s release.”

People who are sensitive to lights should take the following precautions if they plan to watch the movie, the Epilepsy Foundation recommended:

  • Ask a friend to watch the film first.
  • Take your friend with you when you go see the film to alert you about upcoming scenes that contain the flashing lights. Block your eyes during those scenes.
  • Teach your friend the three steps of seizure first aid — "stay, safe, side" — so that they can help if you have a seizure. The strategy calls for staying with the patient, keeping them safe by moving things out of the way, and turning them on their side to keep their breathing clear, experts explained after the death of Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce.

The foundation issued a similar warning last year for the “Incredibles 2” after getting complaints from movie goers when the movie was released.

It also recently posted cautions on social media about the flashing lights in two Netflix productions: “Dark Crystal” and “Raising Dion,” Jackie Aker, a spokeswoman for the Epilepsy Foundation, told TODAY.

Netflix asked the agency for help in alerting the epilepsy community ahead of the shows being released, she noted.

Photosensitive epilepsy affects about 3% of people with epilepsy and is more common in children and adolescents. For patients with this condition, exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or with certain visual patterns can trigger seizures, the Epilepsy Foundation noted.

Many may not know they are sensitive to flickering lights or to certain kinds of patterns until they have a seizure.

Triggers can include the flicker of TV screens or computer monitors, rapid flashes, intense strobe lights, and even sunlight shimmering off water or flickering through trees. Lights that flash at five to 30 times per second are most likely to trigger seizures, the group noted.

Even people without epilepsy can develop symptoms including headache, nausea and dizziness.

In 1997, more than 700 people became sick in Japan after watching flashing lights in a cartoon that set off convulsions and vomiting.