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Treatment Approaches for Visual Snow

by Dr M Amir(more info)

listed in anatomy and physiology, originally published in issue 219 - January 2015

Visual snow is a transitory or persisting visual symptom where people see snow or television-like static in parts or the whole of their visual fields, 24/7 that is everywhere and in all lighting conditions. It is much like camera noise in low light conditions.

The severity or density of the ‘snow’ differs from one person to the next; in some circumstances, it can inhibit a person's daily life, making it difficult to read, see in detail and focus correctly. You can get a good idea from this link and perhaps can use the link to ascertain your exact scores in different lighting conditions.

http://visionsimulations.com/simulators/visual-snow

No cause for visual snow has been identified, and anecdotal reports point to a multitude of associated conditions, possibly rendering it a non-specific symptom. Insofar as sufferers of visual snow have undergone ophthalmic, neurological and psychiatric examinations, no systematic problems besides the visual snow have been identified and hence no treatment is available.

I came across such a patient and noted that she has a terrible neck problem, IBS  and TMJ dysfunction. We started treatment with little resolution of the symptoms in the early stages but her IBS started resolving. Gradually her neck started improving and the visual snow symptoms started abating a little. The patient did not see any improvement until she lost her dental appliance when she realized that her ‘Visual Snow’ deteriorated rapidly to the original state. On restarting the appliance the 'visual snow' symptoms again subsided slightly as before.

Posterial Muscles - Occipital Bone

What could be the explanation?

Correcting the TMJ improves the neck muscles. Some deep muscles in the middle of the base of the head play an intimate role in proper eye function. The deepest layers of muscles (the sub occipital ‘star’) are crucial and have the highest number of stretch receptors. Their connection, from eye movements to coordination of the rest of the back musculature, is remarkable.

These muscles have been shown to have 36 muscle spindles/gram of muscle tissue. The gluteus maximus, by comparison, has 0.7 spindles/gram. That is a 50-fold difference.

To feel their connection to eye movements, put your hands up on either side of your head with your thumbs just under your skull at the back middle of the head. Try and feel past the superficial muscles to get to the deep ones under the occipital ridge.

Close your eyes and then turn your eyes to the right and left while your other fingers keep your head from moving. You will feel those little muscles changing tonus under your thumbs even though your head is not moving. These little primary muscles are responding to your eye movements.

Look up and down and you will feel other muscles within this set engage in a similar way. Try to move your eyes without these muscles moving and you will find that it is impossible. They are so fundamentally connected that any eye movement will produce a change in tonus in these sub occipitals.

It appears that the hearing and vision senses are intimately affected by the state of these deep sub occipital muscles. A disturbance in the muscle tone at the base of the mid occiput perhaps upsets the ocular and auditory pathways causing in some the effect perceived as 'Visual Snow'.

The picture also shows how the back spinal muscles are literally suspended from the areas controlled by the sub occipital muscles. We have repeatedly seen how correcting the Atlas vertebrae immediately corrects the asymmetric hips most people suffer from - also known as the short leg phenomenon.

The tension in these muscles is also the cause of most headaches and migraines.

The way these muscles interact with the eyes is exemplified by a falling cat which always lands on its feet.

Faling Cat

When a cat finds itself in the air, it uses its eyes and inner ear to orient its head horizontally. This puts certain tensions into these sub occipital muscles, which the brain ‘reads’ from the stretch receptors. Based on this reading the brain ‘unwinds’ the spinal muscles to organize the entire spine from the neck down, so that the cat's feet are under it before it ever hits the carpet.

Apart from improving the TMJ dysfunction and bringing about Cranio-dental symmetry to resolve the tension in the sub occipital muscles it is also advantageous to have a little bit of daily sub occipital release which can easily be accomplished by visiting an alternative practitioner.

This video is a good example of how to accomplish this release.

A patient wrote on the internet

“I've had visual snow for as long as I can remember............  I only occasionally get tinnitus; not ringing but more like I'm a mile away from a rock show.  Sometimes I still look around wondering "Where is that music coming from?!" only to realize I'm the only one vaguely hearing it.... I was studying massage therapy and was getting a head / neck massage from one of the 2nd year students.  She worked on the muscles in my neck then did a sub-occipital release.  Your sub-occipital muscles are literally the muscles that move your eyes, and ‘releasing’ them is just literally stretching them out causing them to relax. 

“I don't know if it worked right away.  However, I do remember going outside to catch the bus home.  It was night... and I just looked around, totally amazed.  No snow in the darkness!  The headlights of the cars and the street lights didn't have monstrous halos!”

Another patient replies

"I am suffering with muscle tension every day and I do get that feeling like when you hold your breath and try to make your head red (pressure type feeling) that is actually just caused by blood that isn't flowing through enough... 

I suffer from very heavy VS.  Can't go outside to do anything anymore without getting back with a headache that lasts for days! all I can do is relax at home...it started with pain in my neck my VS increased like  80%."

Another comment by a reader

I saw an ophthalmologist a year or so ago who had spent 5 years researching visual disturbances. He said he'd met people who had similar problems to me with the things moving when they're not, jumping vision, colours not being right, flashing, blind spots, halos, strobes and bright colours when you've got your eyes shut. Anyway he said they'd never found a cause but noted the similarity in other apparent symptoms and patient history, for example previous head injury, non-binocular vision, fatigue, IBS, dizziness, tinnitus and headaches.

What does this all mean?

What I deduce from extensive studies and experience with just one patient is that 'Visual Snow' is not an isolated symptom. It is part of a broader picture where patients suffer from a host of other symptoms like neck pain, fatigue, IBS, ear problems and headaches all caused by bodily asymmetries. It appears that the neck in these patients is more seriously damaged through injury and/or Cranio dental dysfunction.  All these accompanying symptoms are very amenable to treatment. It should therefore be possible to bring about a resolution of 'Visual Snow' symptoms. If I had sufficient patients I could probably get results very fast in a small percentage instead of 'No cure' at present for this condition.

Further Information

See more at: www.dramir.com/morelinks.php?t=22

www.dramir.com/testimonials.php

Comments:

  1. Neil Schuet said..

    visual snow is caused by a hypermetabolism in the lingual gyru part of the brain. Period. This article is wrong. Powerful MRI scans have proven this.


  2. Dr M. Amir said..

    Neil Thank you for your contribution. I read well before writing this article. The location of the symptom in the lingual gyrus is well known. I do not dispute that. However, after extensive reading of the available information on the internet, the fact of the matter is that no treatment is available for these patients from the medical profession in spite of the readily available MRI scanners and their umpteenth resources.   


    Do you have something to offer for the treatment of these patients? If not, it is disingenuous on your part to get in the way of those afflicted with this awful condition.  


    For readers it is useful to know that the lingual gyrus is a brain structure linked to the processing of vision. Its unique position in the occipital lobe and quite close to the basi-occiput of the skull is very important. This region is prone to physical asymmetries in the presence of jaw asymmetry.


    Additionally this region is susceptible to further asymmetry from an asymmetric Atlas vertebra (Please read this article: http://dramir.com/articles.php?t=3)  


    Such an asymmetry also compromises the blood flow through the vertebral artery on the affected side perhaps further causing oxygenation problems of the region in question.  


    My conjecture is that improving the symmetry of these structures would help nourish this area of the brain better and also remove any physical impediment to allow better function of the cerebellum and the occipital lobe.   The result is pretty obvious in my very first patient.   


    I do however, need many more patients to confirm this hypothesis.


    As a matter of fact my single patient is showing considerable improvement.   Her Xmas card to me reads: "Thanks for all your help and support over the past year. This time last year I would not have been able to write this card."


  3. Visual Snow said..

    I have suffered with VS for almost three years with experience of around 30 symptoms. It turned out that I had Lyme bacteria, CMV, HHV-6 and bartonella henselae and I'm not sure if my VS was only due to Lyme disease. I did well with all of my symptoms except VS (50% improvement), weak tinnitus, weak constant headaches, neck stifness, weak facial pain, stress and anxiety.
    Except infection, currently the possible causes of VS I know are:
    Hypoperfusion in the brain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3Dtrt5pJ7U)
    Hypermetabolism in the brain (which also could be related to neuroinfection)
    Drug use
    Optic neuritis
    Dopamin receptor burnout (not sure how this works but one guy, from VS yuku forum, claimed that he was cured by stopping watching pornography and masturbating for three months)
    Chemical or hydraulic imbalance in the CSN (possibly linked to hypoperfusion, see: http://neuronresearch.net/vision/clinical/snowyvision.htm)

    If you have a lot of symptoms and have progressive worsening of your symptoms, then I would choose the infection as the cause. Hypermetabolism in the brain would also fit in this category.
    Note that if your tests come out negative for Lyme disease and you still suspect Lyme disease, I strongly recommend you to consult lyme literate medical doctor, through ILADS. You have to choose LLMD because regular MD or specialist doesn't know how to properly treat it. They just follow their old cautious rules.
    If you just have problems with your eyes and hearing then the VS might be associted with your neck and/or jaw problems caused by stress, anxiety or injury.


  4. Dr M. Amir said..

    I have received some interesting inquiries from patients suffering with Visual snow. Here is what they have to say:
    “My daughter's visual snow started after a whiplash type injury that she incurred during a fall while snowboarding. She is currently receiving atlas orthogonal chiropractic adjustments frequently as she has difficulty holding the adjustments. She has had several MRIs of her head and neck, including an upright MRI, and they uncovered a chiari malformation. Also, at the time of the fall she was undergoing orthodontic Invisilign treatment. She does feel that her jaw changes position when she is in or out of adjustment with her neck, but even when her neck is in adjustment she still feels like her jaw is not in the right position and her bite is uneven. Nothing has relieved the visual snow, but she has noticed that when she is out of adjustment the visual snow increases. “

    “I developed very severe visual snow after a cycling traffic accident in which I broke my arm and elbow 2 years ago (I did not perceive any spinal / neck damage). At first the snow was quite light but it developed into such a heavy distortion of my visual field that life became …..
    I can no longer truly meditate because it causes the visual snow to increase so badly in intensity - I now live constantly trying to distract myself from my visual symptoms! It is very difficult to ever relax as eyes open or closed I constantly see flashing static - like I'm receiving way too much information I don't know how to process, sometimes it feels a little bit similar to what I imagine epilepsy is like without seizures. About 6 months after the visual symptoms started I noticed I had some TMJ and was becoming more and more depressed / chronically.”
    “It has recently come to my attention that my visual snow (which is the most annoying and debilitating of my symptoms) may very well be something to do with a jaw misalignment or general misalignments.

    I meditate a lot and I am able to move energy downwards through my body, however, the energy is extremely blocked in the jaw, it causes me pain and my teeth clench and sometimes shudder because of the pressure.

    However now I feel I have a lot of structural issues that needs to be dealt with. I especially want to look at this possible connection between jaw misalignments maybe and my visual snow. The fact that I have visual snow, extreme jaw pressure, neck tightness etc. and a history of high impact sports that were on my neck/ back, poor posture, dreams of extreme jaw gurning is giving me high suspicions that I may have uncovered something [in your article].”

    “I have suffered with TMJ for many years, perhaps since I was as young as twelve, but around 4 years ago my symptoms became much worse. Seemingly all at once I got tinnitus in both ears, a type of "brain fog", and visual snow. At the time I had no idea what was happening to me, and I didn't know any terminology. I thought I was going mad! My visual snow relaxed after 4 months, but my tinnitus carried on as well as having serious TMJ problems. Recently, my visual snow has returned, making life very difficult.

    I read your article on "Treatment Approaches for Visual Snow". It's really exciting for me that you have seen a patient with the same symptoms that I have.”


  5. saadat saghafi said..

    hi dear in my world any one can not cure my my visual snow?why?i see much moving bright dots in my vision.each one cure my illness i do each thing that wish.my god please help me.


  6. Rogers Michael said..

    I have this visual snow symptos for two years and i had this one time in 2007. There are many symptoms within this vs symptom . Can anybody help me here? i was at many doctors nobody could help me... If anybody knows something please wirte me an E-mail i am from germany near munich i am 26 years old..


  7. Michael R said..

    Dear Dr. Amir
    which doctor i should go to i have also this neck rpoblems even if it is no pain my head seems to be not straight in the middle of the neck.

    I also have vs very very heavy have you got an information what i can do or where i should search. Thank you.


  8. Kayleigh Jump said..

    Dr. Amir, I also have been experiencing visual snow though mine comes and goes with pain at the back of my head that radiates down my neck, ringing in the ears, pain in the mask of the face, numbness and loss of sensation in the face, headache, pressure or pulsating feeling in the ears in same pattern as muscle spasms in neck and down the arms,etc. I have degenerative disc disease/ spinal cord disease, I suspect mine may be coming from damage in the c2-c3 area and hypersensitivity of the spinal cord. I would be willing to share any of my medical test results if they will be of help to you. I have various CTs of the head, EMGs for nerves of the neck, and cervical Xrays and MRIs. Mine has gotten progressively worse as the condition in my neck has worsened over 13 years.


  9. Michael Hall said..

    I just wanted to let you know that reading this completely blew mind because I just happen to suffer from visual snow, TMJ dysfunction, and Crohn's Disease.

    Perhaps all of these things are related?


  10. Carol Binta Nadeem, LCPC said..

    Dr Amir,
    I thank you for this informative article and also for the comments. Amazing insight that validates my suspicion and thoughts on how to treat a new patient suffering from VS. Obviously a multi-disciplinary approach is important. I'm wondering if you have any research on EMDR as an effective treatment for this health problem? Having my patient seek dental assessment, massage and chiropractic care are recommendations I intend to make. Also thank you for your humble responses to comments on this article. I will print the article for my patient as well. Information like this will empower patients who have been so frustrated with the inability of the medical practitioners to offer cure or relief.


  11. Dr M. Amir said..

    Hello everybody,
    I have not written for a while but I have some good news. One patient came along at about the time I wrote this article with multiple symptoms as described in my article including 'Visual Snow'.
    Most of his symptoms disappeared within a few months but the VS only improved by about 40%. Now some 2 years on, he reports that he is 80% better and sometimes he is not even aware that he has any symptoms of Visual Snow. He is still under treatment and I hope he will be almost 100% better soon.
    This is very encouraging news and I hope that many other sufferers will be able to get some proper treatment.


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About Dr M Amir

Dr M Amir BDS MSc (U. London) Dental Surgeon is a dental surgeon practising holistic dentistry in London. He specializes in the treatment of patients with medical problems emanating from the dysfunction of the jaw joint. He takes particular interest in the field of body symmetry and its relationship to health He can be contacted on Tel: 0208 780 3433 (secretary); amir@dramir.com  www.themsforum.org/  www.dramir.com

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