What Is Visual Snow?

It is grainy or pixelated vision, resembling a TV static overlay, and can be constant. It can be mistaken for floaters or visual ghosts. Even though the first case was reported in 1995 and only 10 cases by 2014, it clearly not rare. New studies show it affects 3% of everyone. Some people have had it for as long as they can remember and assumed it was normal. It can run in families and be associated with migraine, although the specific cause is unknown.Jack H. Florin MD | Your Neurologist in Orange County

It is alarming when first recognized and people rush to see an ophthalmologist. Extensive examinations are normal because it is generated in the brain, analogous to a migraine visual aura. Uncommonly, disorders of the cornea or retina are found. If not, people can be reassured that they will not lose vision and the course is benign.

Treatment options are limited. Lamotrigine, a medication that may reduce frequency of migraine auras, is usually ineffective. Colored lenses or visual desensitization exercises can be tried. There is now a large online support community. Once people are reassured and “validated,” most go on with their lives.

Adapted from Neurology Reviews, January,2022.

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