Living with Visual Snow and How to Cope Image

Living with Visual Snow and How to Cope

Visual snow is a very rare and mysterious condition 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.

It 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 your vision. People with visual snow say it always looks as if it were snowing. It’s 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

Living with Visual Snow and How to Cope ImageThe 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 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 Vince, who shared his struggle on his website, he had never taken so many tests and so prescriptions in his life. Doctors chalked his symptoms up to mental health issues. It wasn’t until he found a community of other sufferers that he learned exactly what was going in with his vision.

Because of the skepticism and disbelief that visual snow is real, many of those 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 will be told that there simply isn’t anything that can be done for them.

A Condition of the Brain

The reason so many doctors are hesitant to validate this condition is because so much about it is unknown. They think 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 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. Although the exact cause is not known, some experts believe there may be a link between visual snow and migraines. However, we know now that visual snow isn’t exclusively related to migraines and aura. A study published in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology proved that although 60 percent of sufferers also suffer from migraines, that isn’t always the case. The remaining 40 percent experience symptoms of visual snow without the aura or pain of a migraine. We know that that both conditions are independent of each other and need individual treatment. Finding out which treatment is best requires more research and testing.

Symptoms and Triggers

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’s more of an inconvenience or annoyance. But for others who have a more severe case, the condition 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 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 the condition. 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 the condition is by using yellow-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 who suffer from the condition to 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.

About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics with the dreams of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he and his brother decided to start Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent over a decade studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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Join or Start the Discussion

4 responses to “Living with Visual Snow and How to Cope”

  1. Avatar for Alexavier Alexavier says:

    I have had visual snow all my life , i am 13. It was just recently like 3 months ago that i started to notice the static, at the time i thought oh it’s probably just because i used the computer to much today or i need a nap.One day when i was watching tv with my family i noticed the static was around everything but the tv. I got really scared because even though my vision wasnt good * I wear Glasses * i could still see stuff and a pretty good quality. that night i was looking at everything, the door , the wall , the floor, anything. It all had a static field. I then did some research and found the condition visual snow and immediatly knew i had it. Ever since ive started having migraines and i see the static in everything 24/7 day and night even when i close my eyes. Theres no escape. At a time i would always say to myself do you really want to live with this and considered suicide. Day and night i would spend time resarching visual snow for any cures or reliefs. I found that better posture and stretching helps a bit but doesnt totally keep it away. It is very noticeable in the dark. Everyday I am depressed and hope for a cure. I cry at night sometimes when everyone sleeping. In fact i’m crying right now as i am typing . It has gotten to the point that is hard to even read books. This rare medical condition can be cured yes but it is at random and there is no way of knowing when , why or how it just happens . For some it heals and you can live a normal life but for others its a life long thing. The best thing to do is try and ignore it and try to live with it.

  2. Avatar for Christdora Christdora says:

    Hello my name is Christdora and I live in the United States. I’ve had visual snow since i can remember. Though luckily my condition isn’t as servere as others experienced. Those tiny television static aren’t a bother to me or my life. Though I am affected with the symptom of visual snow. I say it’s quite the beauty,especially looking up at the sky. I would see moving waves and shapes and these tiny white circles bounces all around me. I love looking to a blank wall and seeing those waves dance, and if i “tune in” with my sight it cause me to feel light and free. I think my condition is quite magical.

  3. Avatar for Autom Cora Autom Cora says:

    I was sick for about three years. I had migraines and a slew of other issues. When the symptoms worsen. And my eyes began to get screwy. I fell quite a few times. I eventually went to the er again. This time discribing my increased migraine pain and eyes issue. A cat scan proved that a meningioma tumor had been growing on top of my brain. I was admitted and prepped for a craniotomy. I prayed everything would get better but it didn’t. When I told my Neuro opthamogist about static like vision. And that it started shortly before diagnosis. Which by then the tumor was large. He flat out said I should see physiatrist. Basically I was crazy. I was so upset. The next appointment he apologized. They did tests and checked my optic nerves. The only issue I had was loss of peripheral vision or decrease in it. He finally said it is my vitreous. And it is not caused by the tumor. I am still angry because how do you not connect when it started and me having a large tumor in my head at that time! It never goes away. I can not see stains on shirts. I can not focus at all. It is not saturated but an interference. To have to look through this. I have light sensitivity. The brighter the lights the more amped up the static gets. This other stuff may include vitreous but it still is not normal. I see waves in my peripheral vision. Constant tiny floaters. One time it looked like gnats flying around. Concrete steps blend together. So I have to feel for the end. I almost fell down a flight of stairs. I hate to say it but someone tells me to get something and I look and see nothing. Then they point to it lots of times and it magically appears. I know something is wrong with my brain functioning my eyes. But even a well known neuro opthomologist dismisses it and leaves me with unanswered questions. And leaves me to suffer. As if being sick for years and then having brain surgery wasn’t enough!

  4. Avatar for Joseph rubino Joseph rubino says:

    I suffer from the same condition when it gets bad i know a migraine with sura is on the way ive just acepted it as the price ive got to pay for living thats all . Though it is not easy at times i get panic atacks when they are heavy. It helps to keep busy looking at the world and not focusing on it.

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