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Let’s Get An Expert’s Opinion About “Visual Snow Syndrome”

March 14, 2023

Visual snow syndrome occurs when you constantly see snow or static, such as the image on an outdated television. Many people who suffer from it also suffer from migraine headaches, and there’s no standard treatment approach for it.

What is “visual snow syndrome”?

Visual snow syndrome is a rare neurological disorder in which images and scenery appear "snowy," as if the environment in front of the person is filtered through television static. Even when a person closes their eyes, the problem does not go away, and it can also cause light sensitivity and floaters.

What does "visual snow" look like?

The visual snow syndrome (VSS) causes small, dispersed dots to appear throughout the field of vision. The dots do not grow or shrink and do not form clumps.
Visual snow syndrome is classified into two types:

  • Pulse VS – Dots are the same color as the background. When viewed against a dark background, the dots appear darker than the background. And, when viewed against a light-colored background, dots appear lighter.
  • Broadband VS – Dots seem to be a different color than the background, i.e., when viewing a dark image, dots appear to be light, and when viewed against a light background, dots appear dark.

The severity of visual snow syndrome can range from mild to severe, depending on the individual and the symptoms they are experiencing.

Is the "visual snow syndrome" common?

Visual snow syndrome is a rare condition. It is believed that only 2–3% of the world’s population is affected.

What causes “visual snow syndrome?”

The specific cause of visual snow syndrome is unknown, but it is most likely caused by a brain problem. Some experts believe that it is a neurological disorder with sensory (visual) and psychological components.

Because visual snow syndrome affects a person’s whole range of vision, experts believe it happens in the visual cortex of the brain. In other words, images are not formed appropriately in the visual field because they are not processed correctly in the brain to begin with.

What are the symptoms of “visual snow syndrome?”

Visual snow syndrome symptoms are mostly visual, though some persons also experience headaches, light sensitivity, and ringing in the ears.

Particular symptoms of the condition include:

  • Tiny dots in the visual field
  • Images that appear "snowy" or "television static-like"

Additional associated visual symptoms with the "visual snow syndrome" are:

  • Double vision (diplopia)
  • Light sensitivity (photophobia)
  • Night blindness (nyctalopia)
  • Halos, floaters, and eye flashes
  • Images that stay visible even after you’ve looked away or closed your eyes

Additional associated non-visual symptoms with visual snow syndrome are:

  • Fatigue
  • Tinnitus
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Headaches or muscle aches
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Having an out-of-body sensation

What are the risk factors for “visual snow syndrome?”

Several providers have discovered that visual snow syndrome is found in people who also have the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Migraine with or without aura

How is “visual snow syndrome” diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will begin by gathering your medical history and asking about your symptoms.They may then perform a physical examination and a thorough eye exam.

To accomplish this, your clinician may order imaging or other testing. You may need to see both a neurologist and an ophthalmologist. A visit to a neuro-ophthalmologist would be great.

How is “visual snow syndrome” treated?

There is currently no cure for visual snow syndrome, but patients can do things to manage their symptoms. For example, you can:

There is no cure for visual snow syndrome at the moment, but patients can take steps to control their symptoms.

  • Start using soft lighting rather than bright bulbs around the house.
  • Use rose-tinted glasses to lessen the intensity of your visual symptoms.
  • Avoid writing on a bright white pad; rather, start using a neutral-colored paper, such as a yellow-tinted pad.
  • When you read or write, use a bookmark to guide and separate the lines on a piece of paper.
  • Address headache symptoms as soon as they appear with pain relievers or other medicines.
  • Visual snow syndrome can be treated with anticonvulsant and antidepressant medicines, but they do not completely remove symptoms, and the side effects are often worse than the cure.

A message from the Ojas – Eye Hospital

It can be highly stressful to develop a new or worsening eye condition, especially when the causes are unknown. If you are experiencing constant "snow" or "static" in your visual field, please visit our experts at Ojas – Eye Hospital in Mumbai.

Ojas Eye Hospital A Center of Excellence for Contoura Vision, Femto Bladefree Lasik in Mumbai, India.