You may remember an article we did about the mystery that is visual snow. This very rare condition is hotly debated by experts. Split into two sides, some claim that this condition isn’t real, while others say that it is and needs attention.
Visual snow is a very real condition that deeply affects those who suffer from it. The exact number of people who suffer from it is not known, but more people than you’d think are affected. There are endless stories online of people suffering from visual snow and their experiences with the rare condition.
The purpose of this article today is to lend an ear to these stories and to bring to light the effects of this very real issue. The doctors may not listen, but we will.
Living with Visual Snow
To quickly recap, in case you missed our last article about it, visual snow is a chronic condition that affects a person’s vision. People with visual snow say it always looks as if it were snowing. It is like watching television on an old bunny-eared TV set where the signal isn’t coming through.
Often sufferers claim that they’ve seen this way for as long as they can remember. Though the exact cause is not known, some experts believe there may be a link between visual snow and migraines.
The Struggle to be Believed
As if living with something that is completely unexplainable by doctors and eye health experts wasn’t hard enough, visual snow is also often denied as being a real vision disorder.
The cause of visual snow is completely unknown. Those who experience it often have “normal” eyes. By normal we mean that nothing seems obviously wrong with their eyes. A person with visual snow will have properly functioning eyes with no abnormalities present.
This leads to a lot of doubt among experts. In the case of Jackie, who shared her struggle on rarediseaseday.org, she explains that her symptoms only made doctors think she was on some sort of “controlled substance.”
Because of this skepticism and disbelief that visual snow is real, many suffering from it do not come forward. They don’t feel safe or feel as if they deserve the care they so obviously deserve. Often sufferers of visual snow will be told that there simply isn’t anything that can be done for them.
Visual Snow: A Condition of the Brain
The reason so many doctors and experts refuse to believe that this condition is real is because it may have to do more with the brain than the eye. Brain scans of people with visual snow have shown abnormal activity in the regions of the brain that control the eyes.
Researchers are in the early stages of figuring out what is causing this visual snow, but recent studies have shown that the “snow” is worsened during times of stress, fatigue and migraines; all things that are directly related to brain function.
What exactly causes this region of the brain to be different than normal is still unknown, but research is constantly underway.
Living with Visual Snow
Living with visual snow can be tough at times. Though it has not proven to be dangerous to one’s eye health, it is known to hold people back.
Those with moderate visual snow, where the snow isn’t so distracting say that it is more of an inconvenience or annoyance. But for others who have a more severe case, the visual snow can get in the way of reading, going to events, watching TV, and much more.
Visual snow does not affect everyone in the same way. While some have had to quit school because reading with the constant snow was too much, others have learned to cope and have gone on to complete high levels of education.
Most sufferers of visual snow can however agree on one thing: contrasting lights are the devil. Computer screens, strobe lights, bright lights are all things that can cause uncomfortable flashes in their vision and cause light to dance around. Uncomfortable and uncontrollable, many people with visual snow have to be very careful about lighting.
Night vision in most with visual snow is severely worse than those without visual snow. Going out at night or driving at night is a great challenge.
Coping with Visual Snow
Unfortunately, many people have not learned to cope with this vision problem. Some have found that certain things set off the flashing lights and have learned to avoid them. But others haven’t been so lucky. There is no surefire way to cope with the condition. At this stage, it’s a lot of trial and error.
However, human trials are underway to find ways that can help people cope with visual snow. One way that many people are beginning to treat visual snow is by using tinted lenses. In a study with 12 participants, all reported that their symptoms were more tolerable when wearing the lenses.
This has paved the way towards making special tinted lenses for visual snow. The lenses can allow people to freely enjoy the activities they love and may even decrease the number of school drop outs.
Experts advise those with visual snow talk to their doctors (or preferably one who knows and believes in the realness of this condition) and find a personalized way to cope with it.
It isn’t an ideal solution, but it seems to be the only solution available right now. Which to be honest, is better than nothing, which is where we were a few years ago.
Visual snow has brought many people together on social media. Hopefully banding together will make experts listen and find a cure for this truly mysterious vision problem.