In this article, we will discuss what Visual Snow Anxiety is? Before we dive into that we will try to understand exactly what is meant by Visual Snow Syndrome? What its symptoms are? Along with the types, treatments, and causes for this condition. We will look at how there is a link between visual Snow syndrome and the causes of psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety. Conclusively we will discuss a few FAQs to get a better outlook on the topic.
What is Visual Snow Anxiety?
When there is difficulty in retrieving or properly processing visual information, this condition is a neurological disorder called visual snow syndrome also known as VSS. People who have this neurological condition may suffer also from psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, and panic attacks as it causes a visual disruption in their normal everyday activities.
Visual Snow Syndrome
This is an exceedingly rare condition that affects the way visual information is processed in the brain and eyes. It is a neurological disorder because all the optic apparatuses seem to work simply fine but the signals that are being sent to the brain are disrupted in some way.
People with this condition see a lot of flickering spots like snow or static, which takes up their entire field vision, the effect present in both eyes. Other symptoms frequently seen by people with VSS are seeing blobs of different shapes and sizes floating in their vision, some may even see images even after they are out of the line of sight.
Visual snow may even cause some people to be sensitive to light and have difficulty with night vision, ringing in the ears, and migraines. These symptoms do not change over time. The cause of visual snow syndrome is still unknown, but it is likely to be involved with how the brain processes vision.
People who are diagnosed with visual snow syndrome are mainly based on the symptoms they may have, and according to their symptoms, their treatments are managed.
For some patients with visual snow, the symptoms are relatively mild can forget about it for some time, but for people whose symptoms are comparatively more the effects are crippling, visual snow syndrome can make a person partially blind or make it nearly impossible to see properly, cause immense distress to those who are suffering.
Visual snow syndrome symptoms
For a person to be diagnosed with visual snow, the patient needs to have the symptoms be recurring and persistent for a period of at least three months, the visual symptoms may include,
- Flashing lights (Photopsia)
- Visual effects within the eye (seeing images from within the eye itself)
- Images continuing to appear even after it is no longer visible
- Sensitivity to light
- Spots or snow in the field of vision, like television static
- Trouble seeing in low light or at night
- When looking at the blue light, bright spots move faster.
The less common symptoms include migraines, ringing in the ears, and fatigue. The symptoms of visual snow do not change with time. Some people with depression and anxiety have visual snow syndrome related to their symptoms. This can start at any age, usually occurring in early adulthood.
The symptoms may even be present in a person that doesn’t suffer from visual snow, but in the case of the disease, the symptoms will keep coming back, be persistent and attenuate.
Different types of visual snow
There have been two types of visual snow identified,
- Broadband type, which is a more common type of visual snow, it creates a static image effect over the full visual field. The visual spots can vary in size and impair the vision very prominently.
- Pulse-type, where the visual spots seen by a person are the same size and are spread evenly across the visual field, might sometimes appear to flicker or swirl and could be either lighter or darker than the colors they are seeing at the time.
Visual Snow comorbid with Anxiety
When the symptoms of visual snow are worsening, the person’s eyes and brain are tired, or when they feel stressed. Seeing spots invokes fear in a lot of people, that could be because of the influence of the media that seeing spots usually occur when someone is about to pass out.
Sometimes people with anxiety complain about seeing spots when they are anxious, this could be because of visual snow, as it is described as seeing tiny flickers of static or spots.
An article mentioned that visual snow could be caused due to Multiple Sclerosis, which is a disease of the brain and spinal cord where the immune system attacks the protective sheath, which causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
People who have severe anxiety and panic attacks majorly fear MS, since most of these symptoms are linked. But MS is a rare disease and we also know that Visual snow does not have a proper dealing cause to explain why it occurs.
There was a study done to understand why people with anxiety have visual snow syndrome, it was found that half of the population who have visual snow may also have migraines and the other half of the population don’t, and neither do they have any other illness that contributes to the cause of visual snow in those people, hence pointing to the fact that it is entirely possible that anxiety could be causing visual snow. Either way, both anxiety or migraine are treatable.
Visual snow anxiety in relation to drug abuse
The lack of proper vision caused by visual snow makes a person very stressed and anxious. When a person experiences visual disturbances and symptoms of visual snow, it is somewhat like those who have experienced hallucinogenic drugs.
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder or HPPD is a common example of past hallucinogenic drug use that copy the symptoms of visual snow. Visual snow is seen in people with no history of drug abuse, though in the past it was often misdiagnosed as HPPD.
Visual Snow Syndrome: Treatment
No disease can be cured without medicine, therefore even for visual snow syndrome, regular medication is especially important. The most effective medicines to treat visual snow syndrome are antidepressants and antiepileptic medicines, though these medicines only manage the symptoms for some time.
Even mood stabilizers are often used to treat bipolar disorder, Lamotrigine has shown promise to manage and control visual snow symptoms. Amitriptyline is an antidepressant that increases levels of hormone and boosts levels of the chemical transmitters in the brain because it is theorized that visual snow could be the result of hormone imbalance.
Since it is a relatively rare disease, exploration of new treatments is being done to improve the quality of life for the people affected by this disorder.
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FAQs: Visual Snow Anxiety
Does anxiety cause visual snow?
Anxiety, panic attacks, pain, migraines, and depression can often accompany visual snow syndrome. Therefore, medications to prevent migraines, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants are often helpful when treating the disorder.
Can visual snow get worse?
Yes, It may get worse after looking at a screen for a long period of time or during times of high stress. Even when a person does not take the required medication.
Can stress and anxiety cause vision problems?
When we are severely stressed and anxious, high levels of adrenaline in the body can cause pressure on the eyes, resulting in blurred vision. People with long-term anxiety can suffer from eye strain during the day on a regular basis.
Is visual snow progressive?
The perception of visual snow does not appear to worsen significantly following its initial appearance. It is generally not progressive. On the other hand, visual snow rarely disappears once it appears. Until a very highly targeted medical treatment for the condition is developed, it is not likely to be curable.
How rare is visual snow syndrome?
The prevalence of visual snow in the general population is currently unknown. The average age of the visual snow population seems to be younger than for many other neurological disorders.
In this article we discussed what Visual Snow Anxiety was, we even understood what is meant by Visual Snow Syndrome. What the symptoms were, along with the types, treatments, and causes for this condition. We looked at the comorbidity between visual snow and anxiety in-depth, we also looked at the relation it has with drug use. If you have any more questions based on Visual Snow Anxiety do not hesitate to reach out to us.
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