Vision snow is a very real condition but doctors are not sure what causes it; ocular migraine without the pain; asteroid hyalosis causing opaque particles to float in the ‘jelly’ of the eye; a problem in the brain are the three best guesses.
Vision snow can be a 24/7 condition. It can affect people of any age. Until quite recently many doctors and opthalmologists just dismissed it as tiredness or eye strain. The main problem is that people who have it have vision exams and check out perfectly. Brain scans of patients are also perfect, but so little is known about how the brain works, experts speculated the cause lay in that area.
There is a condition called Asteroid Hyalosis where small white particles ‘float’ in the vitreous humour inside the eye. But this is very unlikely to be linked as this condition is degenerative and the eye goes grey/opaque, worsening with age. We are not talking about simple floaters in the eye. This condition is far more serious and thought to be brought on by stress, hypertension and even diabetes.
Then there’s a condition called ocular migraine, and another called retinal migraine. With either you can have vision loss (usually in one eye) for an hour or so; flashing lights are a problem. Usually there is no pain and patients just want to lie down for a while and shut their eyes. There’s no doubt people are sensitive to light during this time but the pain may be on one side of the head only or there may well be none at all. This can again be caused by stress, poor sleep, too much TV, computers, mobile phone usage – with the culprit being blue light or frequency of the screen.
But the problem is that none of these scenarios really fit the vision snow condition. It is 24/7. It doesn’t just come and go. It doesn’t seem to degenerate. No one gets a headache.
Some 8 years ago, two researchers at the the University of California San Francisco were going to find out what it was all about. But Dr. Schankin and neurologist Dr. Goadsby didn’t get that far (although Goadsby is now a Professor at King’s College in London). They describe it as a neurological disease where the vision resembles the flickering snow of old analogue TVs when the programmes ended (they are obviously as old as me!)
Visual Snow – an opinion
What is known from individuals posting on the Web is that a slow steady build of stress might play a part, or it may involve a change of diet. And as is increasingly being found, that diet or stress could fundamentally alter gut bacteria which produce good or bad chemicals and this might play a part. Perhaps going on a 3 day fast and then introducing a couple of foods a day and being your own personal scientist might be the answer – keep a log!
It might be wise to think if you have had any upset in the gut – food poisoning, lots of stress, antibiotics, drugs; or if you have a poor diet omitting foods that build your gut microbiome like soluble fibre, olive oil, fish oils or berries.
You might also think to kill any pathogens, parasites and yeasts in the gut, and try to add back any missing commensal (good) bacteria. It is known widely accepted that there is a Gut-Brain axis.
You could also try the obvious – switch all phones and PCs to night shift permanently; take krill oil, astaxanthin, a little melatonin, and some beta-carotene. And of course, eat the Rainbow Diet – a colourful Mediterranean diet.