This is a quick practical guide to life and health with Visual Snow, based on my experiences as someone living with Visual Snow. It is an update to the earlier post: “practical steps to natural visual snow treatment“. This is by no means an extensive guide but it covers simple points that I hope others will find useful.
This post contains simplified information and is based on my current understanding. For more information and to form a more detailed understanding of your own: please read the original research papers, watch the presentations from the Visual Snow Conference along with the supplementary videos from the Visual Snow Initiative, and read the information on James T. Fulton’s website.
Difficulties Of Living With Visual Snow
Quality of life may suffer for two principal reasons when you have Visual Snow:
2. Reaction to having symptoms
A negative reaction can be just as problematic as any actual symptoms. Speaking as somebody who had had a negative reaction for around ten years – I guarantee you that it is much better to be on the positive side of things. A positive reaction avoids adding or amplifying problems, can help to manage quality of life, and perhaps even reduce certain symptoms.
Too much (or too little) artificial light will cause problems with associated symptoms such as palinopsia, light sensitivity, and flickering vision. The same applies to natural light.
Nyctalopia and not being able to see well in the absence of light is potentially outright dangerous!
You probably won’t be able to control lighting in public places, nor is avoiding sunlight and the outdoors a healthy long-term solution. But you can make lighting comfortable for you and your vision when you are at home.
Sunglasses or Yellow tinted lens glasses can be worn outdoors. Yellow tinted lens glasses can be worn indoors when using electronic devices/reading.
While the cause of Nyctalopia in those with Visual Snow is almost certainly not Vitamin A deficiency, a Vitamin A supplement may help some – I have been eating liver (rich in Vitamin A) throughout this past year. Zinc may also be beneficial together with Vitamin A – for Zinc once again diet is important. Avoid high doses of Vitamin A if you are pregnant.
Similarly regarding Photophobia – there are several possible treatments that may help, even without knowing the underlying cause in those with Visual Snow. One example being dietary intake or supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin.
Many with Visual Snow complain of sleep disturbances and these may result directly from Visual Snow or from reactions to having the condition. It is very important to make sure you get good sleep for the proper functioning of your brain, eyes, and body. The tips here are very simple, but good quality sleep is often something overlooked in today’s society.
You can wear yellow tinted lens glasses in the evening if you are going to use electronics – this will reduce eye strain and block out blue light. You can also use f.lux or a similar program on your computer/phone to adjust the lighting of those devices more naturally.
Stick to a specific time when you go to sleep and wake up.
Stick to a specific time when you stop looking at electronics.
Check if your pillow is comfortable and an appropriate height.
Do not sleep on your stomach or eat/drink right before sleep. Set a specific time to stop and start eating, in addition this may allow you to gain benefits from intermittent fasting.
Do some exercise or take a shower before going to bed.
Do stretches throughout the day to improve postural mobility and make sure you are not sleeping in unnatural positions.
Sleep with an eye mask/ear plugs and make sure your room is as quiet and dark as possible.
If you find you breathe with your mouth at night you could consider taping your mouth or using a chin strap to help force nose breathing. Though the best solution may be to make a commitment to aerobic exercise and breathing exercises throughout the week.
Sleep with your window open if it makes sense to do so.
Other Health Conditions
It is possible that migraine and other health conditions interact with Visual Snow and associated symptoms. Treating other existing health conditions may therefore provide benefits.
Almost all health conditions are affected in some way by root issues such as inflammation, oxidative stress, and the function of your immune system. Lifestyle choices, as well as diet, exercise, and natural supplements are important considerations here.
Supplements, Drugs, Medication, Medical Tests
There is no reason to risk your health or your money because of Visual Snow.
There is currently no medication that will “cure” Visual Snow.
Extensive medical tests such as brain scans are not necessarily relevant outside of research.
It is a genuine risk that you may worsen your condition or give yourself additional problems if you do not understand what you are doing and try to experiment with drugs/medication. The same goes however for natural supplements. There are many such examples online and in the past I have also made such mistakes.
Local doctors and other medical experts may not grasp everything about Visual Snow either, so be careful. A sensible natural approach to managing your life is the safest and probably best option at the current moment in time.
Choose any supplements carefully and for the purpose of improving health rather than hoping that it will cure symptoms.
A poor or undisciplined diet may exacerbate certain symptoms or impact negatively on quality of life.
What constitutes a healthy diet is individual. There are many more nuances in what may or may not be healthy for any given individual than is popularly known and accepted. However some basic principles will apply for most individuals.
I have recently started using a free app called Cronometer to track nutrition and it helped me make some improvements in my diet. This is a good way for anyone to discover nutritional shortcomings.
As a general rule it is best to educate yourself on what it is you are eating and why. Read books and seek out original research because eating healthily is a science and not pop culture/calorie counting. This is the change to which I probably attribute most of my improvement.
Stay hydrated but also balanced in your salt intake.
Eye Strain and Eye Health
While Visual Snow and Visual Snow Syndrome are not directly related to the physical condition of the eyes, eye strain may worsen certain symptoms – for example those involving entoptic phenomena.
Visual Snow has neurological origins and it represents a neurological condition, but ultimately if you see badly through your eyes that will also make things appear worse and add secondary problems.
To reduce eye strain I usually aim to have a cut-off point for using electronics on weekdays and try to have one day during the weekend where I don’t use electronics at all.
Wearing yellow tinted lenses may also help to reduce eye strain. You can also use f.lux or a similar program on your computer/phone to adjust the lighting of those devices to reduce eye strain.
Diet and certain supplements can also help to maintain or improve eye health. I like to use supplements such as quercetin and resveratol because they cover a lot of bases – including eye health, and come without almost any side-effects.
Attention appears to play a part in Visual Snow Syndrome symptoms and Visual Snow Syndrome appears to involve an element of sensory misperception. A lot more information may be getting picked up than should be. True to this, busy environments cause problems in my experience. This may even cause a disconnect in a manner resembling derealisation.
Consider however that you can not only have a crowded outside environment, but also a crowded brain…
There are habits that you may consciously or less consciously turn to in order to distract yourself from Visual Snow. Not all of these are going to be beneficial for your condition.
Be aware that negative distractions will only take your mind off symptoms temporarily or intensify negative feelings. In the worst case scenario they can affect symptoms or quality of life permanently.
Spending too much time on social media related to Visual Snow can be another distraction. It is also the quickest way to spread misinformation, confusion, and anxiety if you go there uninformed.
Trying to make positive lifestyle changes is important for supporting quality of life and avoiding both physical and mental health consequences. Take time out to focus on what you enjoy and find relaxing rather than “distracting”.
Meditation, yoga, practicing mindfulness all come in handy here.
Are you sensitive to your environment?
Smells, sounds, images. These can all have an impact on your health and well-being. Some people are more sensitive than others.
I for example find in particular that the smell of cleaning chemicals and solvents can affect my Visual Snow.
Is your working environment friendly to your health and visual snow?
Is your social environment friendly to your health and visual snow?
Is your home environment friendly to your health and visual snow?
Your surroundings can be of great benefit or detriment to your health. Sometimes it is possible to make changes.
If you have time to think ahead, do so – don’t rush into a future environment that harms your quality of life with Visual Snow. For example I’d recommend anybody considering University/College to take a gap year and figure out their Visual Snow first.
It’s been about a year since I started to improve my health and understanding with Visual Snow. I outlined changes that I would follow and have written about my progress as a “Visual Snow Man”. Not everything has gone to plan but I believe that both my condition and quality of life has already gotten better.
I have found some truth in the saying you are what you eat; but equally what you see, and what you do. Your perception, thoughts, lifestyle and environment – all of this is connected and relevant.
While there are multiple stakeholders in the progress of Visual Snow research, the only person who truly has a stake in your health and understanding is yourself. Ultimately this is about you: understanding yourself and your own life.
Nobody can live your life for you – but being aware of the points listed above is hopefully a useful reference.
Hope Before A Cure
Everybody differs both physiologically and mentally and so the common aim in all of this has to be to improve one’s quality of life. If primary symptoms such as Visual Snow improve then that should be considered a bonus.
A natural, holistic approach to improving health and quality of life is currently the safest option, especially following the increased implication of certain medication and drugs as possible causes of Visual Snow.
My perspective is that if something helps and it’s safe then that is the only thing that matters – you shouldn’t live your life waiting for research and clinical trials to catch up with or validate what works.