Posted at: 01/08/2013 4:44 PM
Updated at: 01/08/2013 5:39 PM
By: Benita Zahn
Like most people who suffer with visual snow, Iris Singer of Albany clearly remembers when it first appeared:
"You wake up one morning and I see the peripheral vision shimmering "
say Iris, " It never went away. I've had it for five and a half years."
Like most of those affected Iris has no idea what triggered it. There was no head injury, illness and no history of drug use, which was once thought to be a cause.
"We have pretty good evidence that something is happening in the brain that creates these visual problems" explains Dr. Henry Abraham, who treat visual snow patients at his practice in Lexington, Ma.
But what that is, remains elusive says Dr. Abraham.
"This is one of those terrible things and we really don't have silver bullet that makes the problem go away."
These images taken from the internet and shared by people with visual snow depict what they see.. 24 / 7.
Along with the static, the hallmark visual snow, there can be shimmering, odd floaters, halos around lights and after images.
" When you look at something and you turn your head and you still see the image" says Iris, adding, "You still see it after you close your eyes."
To get a diagnosis, Iris, like most who are affected, went from doctor to doctor. None had a clue and many suggested she was making it up. Eventually Iris figured out what was wrong after scouring the internet.
Like others with this condition, she gets some relief, not from the images, but from the frustration and depression they can cause through prescribed anti-anxiety medication.
And she's learned to cope. She's directing a play and has help reading the script. She doesn't drive far at night.
So, in essence, she's taking Dr. Abraham's advice.
" Well, you have to learn to push it out of your life and replace it with really productive things."