The human body holds millions of secrets to be discovered. With the advancement of science you’d think we’d have discovered everything, but that just simply isn’t the truth. So it should be no surprise that there is in fact a vision condition that is completely unexplainable. Some eye experts even refuse to believe it exists!
The eyes are complex organs. That’s why when a new vision condition emerges in people, it can take some time (and convincing) before we know more about it. This is especially the case for a condition known as visual snow.
The condition is rare and has left experts divided. While some are pushing for more research to be done about this condition to find possible causes and cures, others are convinced that this condition isn’t even real.
The question is, how do you even know if you have this condition? Many people who suffer from visual snow aren’t aware of it until they learn that visual snow is a condition. We tend to use ourselves as the pillar of normality; so when the only vision you’ve ever known is visual snow, how are you to know any different?
Visual Snow: The Symptoms
The name speaks for itself. Visual snow causes you to see as if you were looking at a grainy television set, where it looks like it is lightly snowing. We all love the sight of some light snowfall as much as the next person, but when it looks like it’s always snowing, it can get a little annoying.
There are two known types of visual snow: pulse type visual snow and broadband visual snow.
Pulse type visual snow is used to describe a type of visual snow where white dots are scattered across a person’s vision like raindrops on a windshield. The dots are far apart and will tend to flicker and can sometimes seem like they’re swirling around.
Broadband visual snow is the more “common” type; as common as a rare condition can be, that is. This type truly looks like a light snow fall. It would be as if you were constantly seeing real life like a pointillist painting.
This image shows a side by side comparison of the two types of visual snow. The two on the left depict pulse type visual snow, while the two on the right show broadband visual snow. However, the image furthest to the right more accurately depicts the broadband type.
Is Visual Snow Dangerous?
For the most part, visual snow is not a danger to your eyes. In fact, the reason why this condition is so mysterious is because no one knows the true cause of it.
Founder of the Eye On Vision Foundation, Jennifer Ambrose suffers from visual snow and was shocked when she found that there was nothing doctors could do for her. She set up her foundation to raise awareness and promote research on the topic.
Her affiliated Facebook page has also become a safe haven for those with visual snow, offering support and understanding for those suffering from it. Something that people with visual snow can’t seem to get from doctors.
The reason visual snow is not thought to be dangerous is because there is nothing physically wrong with the eye. Those who claim to suffer from this condition often have no retinal scarring or tears, which is a big reason why many experts are skeptical to believe this condition exists.
The good news is that aside from being an irritating condition, those with visual snow are no more likely to develop eye diseases than any other regular functioning eyes.
So if you think you may be suffering from visual snow, talk to your doctor to make sure it isn’t a more serious condition. The condition is often confused with floaters, which can be an early sign for glaucoma. Visual snow is much more apparent than floaters and are there at every moment of the day.
Visual Snow: Potential Causes
The exact cause of visual snow is completely unknown. Many refer to the condition as an anomaly or as a phenomenon. But it isn’t as rare as you’d think. Because there has been little research done on the subject, the number of people living with visual snow is unknown, but more and more sufferers are spreading the word.
Aside from the Eye on Vision Foundation, plenty of other groups on Facebook exist for those with visual snow to share their stories and get help. It may affect a small portion of our country’s vast population, but it is by no means an anomaly.
A phenomenon perhaps, but definitely not an anomaly.
Fortunately, some brave experts have gone against their colleagues to research visual snow and its cause or causes.
In 2014, a study was released that claimed that visual snow is not a problem with the eyes, but rather the brain. Brain scans performed on the participants showed abnormal brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for sight.
Though the exact cause of this abnormality is not known, experts have a hunch that it may be due to something neuritis. People who suffer from Lyme disease are likely to suffer from something neuritis as a result of the disease. More research about the link between visual snow and Lyme disease is hopefully underway.
Another factor thought to be causing visual snow is prescription medication. One report is claiming that visual snow could be a side effect of taking certain medications. However, there is little evidence to support this hypothesis.
As of now, there is no treatment available for visual snow other than simply learning to live with it. However, some doctors say that medication can help, but, once again, there is little evidence to support this claim. Knowing the cause is the first step in finding a cure or treatment. Until then, there isn’t much medical experts can do for those with visual snow.
Rare condition like visual snow will diminish the quality of life of those whom it affects. The more research that is done, the more lives we can improve through the power of better sight.