Occipital Lobe Epilepsy

UW Health's comprehensive epilepsy program at UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, offers state-of-the-art care for patients with epilepsy or those suspected of having seizures.


About Occipital Lobe Epilepsy

  • Occipital lobe seizures originate in the back of the brain and account for 5 to 10 percent of all epileptic seizures.
  • The occipital lobe controls a patient's visual system.
  • There are two types of occipital lobe seizures: Idiopathic, which are of unknown origin, and symptomatic, which are associated with known lesions.
  • Occipital lobe seizures begin early in childhood, at ages 5 to 7.
  • In diagnosing occipital lobe epilepsy, EEG readings may reveal abnormal responses to photic stimulation (intermittently flashing lights), potentially indicating an occipital lobe epilepsy diagnosis

Occipital Lobe Epilepsy Seizures

  • Occipital lobe seizures are often mistaken for migraines. 
  • Occipital lobe seizures begin with visual hallucinations including blinking lights and rapid blinking.
  • Other symptoms may include visual hallucinations and illusions, decreased vision (sometimes including blindness), image repetition (pallinopsia), eye pain and involuntary eye movements (including nystagmus or jerking of the eye)
  • Children may experience nausea and vomiting during occipital lobe seizures in addition to the aforementioned symptoms.

Treating Occipital Lobe Seizures

  • Medication used for partial epilepy is often effective.
  • In cases that do not respond to medication, surgery may be considered.
  • Children may outgrow occipital lobe epilepsy.