What does visual snow look like? Quantification by matching a simulation

Samantha A. Montoya, Carter B. Mulder, Karly D. Allison, Mike Lee, Stephen A Engel, Michael Paul Schallmo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The primary symptom of visual snow syndrome (VSS) is the unremitting perception of small, flickering dots covering the visual field. VSS is a serious but poorly understood condition that can interfere with daily tasks. Several studies have provided qualitative data about the appearance of visual snow, but methods to quantify the symptom are lacking. Here, we developed a task in which participants with VSS adjusted parameters of simulated visual snow on a computer monitor until the simulation matched their internal visual snow. On each trial, participants (n = 31 with VSS) modified the size, density, update speed, and contrast of the simulation. Participants' settings were highly reliable across trials (intraclass correlation coefficients > 0.89), and they reported that the task was effective at stimulating their visual snow. On average, visual snow was very small (less than 2 arcmin in diameter), updated quickly (mean temporal frequency = 18.2 Hz), had low density (mean snow elements vs. background = 2.87%), and had low contrast (average root mean square contrast = 2.56%). Our task provided a quantitative assessment of visual snow percepts, which may help individuals with VSS communicate their experience to others, facilitate assessment of treatment efficacy, and further our understanding of the trajectory of symptoms, as well as the neural origins of VSS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 3 2024

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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