Jeavons syndrome is a rare form of epilepsy that begins during childhood. It’s also called epilepsy with eyelid myoclonia or eyelid myoclonia with or without absence seizures.

Jeavons syndrome is a type of reflex epilepsy. Reflex epilepsies involve seizures that begin after a known trigger or stimulus. For people with Jeavons syndrome, this trigger is closing their eyes or flashing lights.

People with Jeavons syndrome experience myoclonic jerks of their eyelids, which are involuntary twitching of the eyelids. Some children have absence seizures that cause lapses in consciousness lasting seconds.

Read on to learn more about Jeavons syndrome, including its symptoms, causes, and outlook.

Jeavons syndrome has three main symptoms:

  • eyelid twitching (myoclonia) with or without absence seizures
  • seizures induced by closing the eyes, especially in bright sunlight or other lights
  • light sensitivity, also called photophobia

Eyelid myoclonia and absence seizures usually last under 6 seconds but can occur many times per day.

All people with Jeavons syndrome have eyelid myoclonia. It typically occurs after a slow eyelid closure. Eyelid myoclonia is characterized by:

  • eyelid twitching, flickering, or fluttering
  • upward rolling of the eyeballs
  • tendency of the head to move back slightly

Some but not all people with Jeavons syndrome have absence seizures. These seizures cause a brief loss of awareness.

Less commonly, people with Jeavons syndrome can develop generalized tonic-clonic seizures or myoclonic jerks.

Sunflower syndrome

Sunflower syndrome is an extremely rare subtype of Jeavons syndrome. It involves self-induced seizures.

People with this type of epilepsy have a compulsive desire to stare at bright lights and create a strobe effect by waving a hand in front of the light.

The exact cause of Jeavons syndrome is unknown, but experts think it’s genetic. A family history is reported in up to 80% of people.

The specific genetic cause isn’t known, but researchers have linked it to mutations in the following genes:

  • RORB
  • KCNB1
  • NAA10
  • COL6A3
  • CHD2

Jeavons syndrome is most common in people with a family history. It usually begins in children ages 6–8 years, but cases have been reported in children 1–16 years old. It affects about twice as many females as males.

Most children with Jeavons syndrome have normal intellectual ability, but they may have trouble with schoolwork from frequent seizures that disrupt their focus.

In a 2021 study that included a group of 40 people receiving healthcare in France, researchers reported intellectual disability in about a third of people with Jeavons syndrome.

Children with Sunflower syndrome often have developmental delays.

It’s essential to get medical attention anytime a child has their first seizure. A doctor can help identify the underlying cause of the seizure and prescribe medications to reduce seizure frequency.

It’s also important to visit your child’s doctor whenever you notice a change in their seizure type or intensity.

The presence of eyelid myoclonia (twitching) is needed to diagnose Jeavons syndrome. Light sensitivity and absence seizures are characteristic signs but not requirements for a diagnosis.

A doctor will ask you questions about your child’s seizure, such as:

  • What happened right before the seizure?
  • What happened during the seizure?
  • How long did the seizure last?

A doctor will use a variety of tests to diagnose Jeavons syndrome, including:

  • an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure their brain activity, often using a light to trigger seizures
  • neurological examination
  • MRI scans of the brain
  • genetic testing with a blood test

Doctors often use a special type of EEG called a video EEG to help diagnose Jeavons syndrome.

This test involves continuously measuring your child’s brain waves with an EEG and monitoring their behavior with a video camera for up to 5 days.

The camera allows doctors to see what your child was doing when their seizures occurred.

Antiseizure medications primarily treat Jeavons syndrome. Examples include:

  • valproic acid
  • levetiracetam
  • lamotrigine
  • clobazam

For Sunflower syndrome, valproate seems to be the most effective treatment.

A keto diet or modified Atkins diet seem to improve some cases of Jeavons syndrome in children.

Vagus nerve stimulation is an experimental treatment that may sometimes reduce seizure frequency.

Wearing a hat and sunglasses and staying indoors whenever possible may help prevent seizures linked to Sunflower syndrome.

Researchers haven’t identified any way to prevent Jeavons syndrome. You may be able to reduce seizure frequency by wearing glasses with blue lenses and taking medications as prescribed.

Little is known about the life expectancy of people with Sunflower syndrome due to its rarity.

Jeavons syndrome is often a long-term condition. Most people need to take seizure medications throughout their lives.

As many as 64.3–80% of Jeavons syndrome cases are drug-resistant. Your child may need to try multiple combinations of antiseizure medications before they find one that works for them.

Here are some frequently asked questions people have about Jeavons syndrome:

What is the age of onset for Jeavons syndrome?

Jeavons syndrome usually begins at 6–8 years old. Less commonly, it can begin at 1–5 years or 9–15 years.

What triggers Jeavons syndrome?

Closing the eyes, typically slowly, and flashing lights trigger Jeavons syndrome seizures.

Is Jeavons syndrome dangerous or serious?

Jeavons syndrome can lead to learning problems if it causes disruptions in the classroom.

It’s a lifelong condition that doesn’t have a cure, but treatments can help manage symptoms and improve a child’s outlook.

Jeavons syndrome is a type of epilepsy that develops in children. It features eyelid myoclonia, which are brief episodes of eyelid twitching. Some children also have absence seizures that cause temporary loss of consciousness.

It’s important to talk with your child’s doctor if you suspect your child might have Jeavons syndrome or any other type of epilepsy. A doctor can confirm the diagnosis and prescribe medications to help prevent seizures.