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: visual snow. Some eye experts even refuse to believe it exists!
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 it is a condition. We tend to use ourselves as the pillar of normality; so when the only vision you’ve ever known is not perfect, how are you to know any different?
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 and broadband.
Pulse type is used to describe the type 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 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, while the two on the right show broadband. 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 suffering from the condition, offering support and understanding. 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.
The exact cause 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 the condition and its cause or causes.
One study claims that visual snow is not a problem with the eyes, but rather the brain. Researchers found the 59 percent of people experiencing visual snow also had migraines. Today, we know a bit more about this syndrome, specifically that it seems to be passed down genetically. And, that some medications prescribed to treat migraines can also treat visual snow. But there’s still no definitive cure.
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 cause visual snow is prescription medication. One report claims that the symptoms 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 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 conditions like this 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.