Purpose of review
Visual snow is considered a disorder of central visual processing resulting in a perturbed perception of constant bilateral whole-visual field flickering or pixelation. When associated with additional visual symptoms, it is referred to as visual snow syndrome. Its pathophysiology remains elusive. This review highlights the visual snow literature focusing on recent clinical studies that add to our understanding of its clinical picture, pathophysiology, and treatment.
Clinical characterization of visual snow syndrome is evolving, including a suggested modification of diagnostic criteria. Regarding pathophysiology, two recent studies tested the hypothesis of dysfunctional visual processing and occipital cortex hyperexcitability using electrophysiology. Likewise, advanced functional imaging shows promise to allow further insights into disease mechanisms. A retrospective study now provides Class IV evidence for a possible benefit of lamotrigine in a minority of patients.
Scientific understanding of visual snow syndrome is growing. Major challenges remain the subjective nature of the disease, its overlap with migraine, and the lack of quantifiable outcome measures, which are necessary for clinical trials. In that context, refined perceptual assessment, objective electrophysiological parameters, as well as advanced functional brain imaging studies, are promising tools in the pipeline.