Monday, May 8, 2023

Vision Update!

You guys probably can see that my photography has been picking up quite a bit the previous year into this year! In the past, you probably know I've struggled with really severe visual snow syndrome since the end of 2018, to the point I was half reliant on a white cane during the day, and completely reliant on a white cane at night (by the end of 2019). The good news is towards the end of 2021, I found an experimental treatment for visual snow from the Visual Snow Initiative (non-profit).

Visual Snow Syndrome (VSS) is a poorly understood, and rare condition, that seems to be caused by parts of the visual cortex being overactive. There is also correlation between VSS, PTSD, and migraines (which are all conditions that I have). There is usually no physical damage to the eyes itself (my eyes are physically healthy). The condition causes nyctalopia (night blindness), distorted and noisy vision, photophobia, and various other symptoms. I had nyctalopia, distorted vision, noisy vision, photophobia, and various other symptoms at one point or another during these years. 

I recovered most of my vision (both day and night)! The main cause for this recovery is because of the Visual Imagery Project (experimental treatment) from the Visual Snow Initiative. The treatment consists of 20 different videos, around 30 minutes long, and feature different kinds of flashy patterns which is probably enough to induce seizures in some individuals. I suspect it works by inducing "micro-seizures" into the brain of the viewer, somehow resetting something inside the visual cortex (but this is just my speculation). I watch those videos daily in a dark room on my computer screen. I had to repeat the treatment sessions several times, and I slowly recovered little by little.

The secondary cause for my recovery is probably because I have been meditating which has been helping me sleep better at night, and has also been lessening my PTSD symptoms. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and while I'm not professionally diagnosed with complex PTSD, I think my particular variant falls under the complex PTSD category. Complex PTSD is very hard to treat. I'm still doing quite a bit of unhealthy avoidance for my PTSD as well. I have been a bit less stressed over all, despite PTSD still being a huge problem in my life.

You'll probably see above, I said, "I recovered most of my vision!", with emphasis on most. So what quirks are still left with my vision?

  1. My close up vision sucks, especially at a distance between 2 feet to 3 feet in front of me. My eyes seem to struggle to focus at that distance. Reading glasses doesn't help (my optometrist tried), but I don't think it's any worse than an elderly individual. Also, my eye muscles tire pretty quickly if I spend time trying to see up that close for any amount of time.
  2. I seem to have lost some of my overall colour perception. What I see looks a bit like an old washed out photograph. If I had to put a number on it, I seem to have lost around 35% of my colour perception and saturation.
  3. I still have a tiny bit of noise in my vision, but it seems to be noise I have had all my life. It doesn't really affect anything.
  4. Migraines will often cause my vision to temporarily degrade. Migraines will often cause a temporary flare-up of visual snow symptoms along with migraine auras. The amount of temporary vision degradation caused by migraines seem to vary every time.
Due to the nature of the experimental treatment, nothing is known about the long term effects of it. I don't know how stable my vision will be into the future, and how long this good streak will last. In between my treatment sessions, I had some back and forth too. At the time of writing, my mostly recovered day time vision has been stable for approximately 8 months, and my mostly recovered night time vision has been stable for approximately 3 weeks. It might destabilize again, but I hope it doesn't.