Some kind of moving "grain" or flickering or snow to my vision

Posted by hobbes777 @hobbes777, Nov 24, 2018

Hi, thanks in advance for anyone that replies. Here's my problem/story

I'm 34. A couple weeks ago I woke up one day and after about ten to twenty minutes of being awake I noticed some weird little mark in my vision. It was almost like a little fleck of distortion or something, it's hard to describe. It seemed to be in both eyes although I only tested that aspect of it for a couple minutes. I have never experienced something like that before or since. To give you some idea of how out of the norm this was and how scared it made me, I immediately went to the emergency room to have it checked and I hadn't been to an emergency room as a patient in almost twenty years, so I'm not someone that just goes to the hospital for every little thing.

About fifteen to twenty minutes after I got to the ER, so probably 40ish minutes after I noticed the problem, it was gone. The doctors still ran a few tests. They had me do a basic eye test where I read letters off a chart. They shined a light in my eyes and had me track a moving finger. Finally, they gave me a CT scan just to make sure it wasn't a major brain issue like a stroke. They told me they couldn't find any problems, nothing wrong on the CT scan, didn't see signs of a torn retina, etc. They told me to book an appointment with an Optometrist, just to have a specialist do a more thorough follow up, which I have booked, although at the time of this post it's still a week and a half away, so I haven't seen them yet.

Then the real problem started. The original eye problem that brought me to the ER, that little distorted spot? It's never come back. I haven't seen it since that one hour in that one day. What did happen in the following days was me being very stressed about what had happened, and becoming hyper-aware of my vision. For me this meant I became more aware of the floaters in my eyes. I've had floaters for years and years, probably most of my adult life, if not longer. Currently, I have three pretty obvious ones in my right eye, one or two obvious ones in my left, and maybe some more light, hard to see ones that I could only find if I really went hunting for them. Floaters are annoying, but I've gotten used to them like most people do and in fact I will go months and months at a time without even thinking about them once. But being hyper-aware of my vision after my ER scare, I paid more attention to them for a few days and was more annoyed by them. Just when I was starting to forget about them one day I was brushing my teeth before bed and looking into the dim hallway I noticed a very weird vision thing. It is really hard for me to put into words, but the best I can say is it's like some kind of visual grain. It feels like it's moving but it might just be rapidly pulsating, I'm not sure.

All of a sudden, I noticed that I see it all the time, everywhere, out of both eyes. It is most noticeable when I stare at something blank without much detail: a wall, the floor, ceiling, a towel several feet away, but I can see it on things with detail as well. It's there persistently. It's more noticeable in a darker/dimmer setting but is still very noticeable in normal light levels as well. It's not like a floater, it's not like the weird one time thing sent me to the ER. The closest thing I can compare it to is when you rub your eyes hard and then open them again, your vision is very briefly kind of flickering little levels of light where you rubbed them? Well, imagine that constantly over your vision, only a bit less severe and maybe a finer "grain" to it. I've looked up various online pictures and videos that try to approximate what visual snow looks like to people, and none of them really fit. Again, I don't see it in colors, and if it's dots they're so small that I can really even define them as dots.

Now, there are three situations where I can make this problem far less noticeable. One, if I focus on something incredibly close up, but I'm talking nearly on my eye, as close as you can get and still focus on something. Two, if I stare at a bright spot, like a white patch of ceiling right next to a light bulb. Three, if I watch something moving with lots of detail, like a TV show, although even there I can see it if I look for it or there's a big patch on the screen of a single color with no detail, so this one might be more of a distraction than anything.

In the three or four days since I've discovered this, I've been a wreck. It's all I can focus on. The fact that it's there constantly everywhere and it has some kind of either movement or pulsation really bothers me and I'm worried it's never going away. I've lost my appetite, I'm panicked, I'm depressed, I feel helpless. The funny thing is I can vaguely remember noticing I had some kind of visual "noise" years ago, but it was once in a dark room and I had never thought of it again. It's been so long since that time, I can't remember if this is worse or the same as what I noticed then, but I get the feeling this is something I've had for a long time to some degree but was used to it or it progressed so slowly I didn't really notice, but now that I do see it, I can't unsee it. It's all I see.

Before I get into my worries/questions I'll also say that I am nearsighted, have been since I was a pre-teen, and I wear glasses. I am in fact long overdue for an optometrist appointment, we're talking years since I've seen one, and I know my vision has gotten somewhat worse and I need a stronger prescription, but it's not been a big issue for me. I still have read, watched TV, lived my life, I just have noticed having to get somewhat closer to things in recent years.

So with all that said, these are the worries I have:

1. I have visual snow/static.

The only eye condition I can find that even comes close to describing the symptoms I have is visual snow, but I'm unsure if that's even it, which is a big reason why I'm here writing this. I'm looking for you, the people who are definite sufferers of visual snow/static to give me your opinion. The moving nature of it and the "grain" jive with your condition, but it is not really dots. It's not colors. The part that does match up is that moving/shimmering/flickering/whatever you want to call it effect, which does feel a little like static.

2. I have some other eye condition

I have not found anything else online that comes close to fitting this description, but obviously I'm not an expert. I am still waiting to see the optometrist but the ER doctors did do that basic vision check and didn't notice anything there.

3. There's nothing I can do about it and it's never going to go away

This is my biggest fear. I am so scared of the idea that this is just the way my vision will always be now. I know I probably lived with it at some level for some time and didn't notice, but that that I'm aware of it, I can't get used to it. The grain aspect isn't fun but the bigger problem is that feeling that it's moving or flashing or whatever static type thing it's doing. It's so distracting and now that I see it it makes me queasy if I focus on it. It's like I can trust my eyes, nothing is still and that bothers me so much.

I'm willing to accept that part of this might be stress related. I have suffered panic attacks in the past and the ER situation did put me in a very scared state about my vision. On the other hand, this has been the only time in my life I've ever worried about my vision in a major way and I do remember noticing years ago that I had something like this to some degree, although again, it's been so long I can't remember how it compares, I just know at the time it was enough to notice but not enough to freak me out like it's doing now. I don't think I'm hallucinating/imagining this out of nothing.

Any and all help would be appreciated. Again, I am so stressed right now, this is ruining my life. I am so worried I'm just going to be told that there's nothing to be done or I'm crazy and imagining it. I don't know if I can get used to this. Please help if you have any insight.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Eye Conditions Support Group.

Welcome to Connect, hobbes777. I want to commend you for your proactive response when you noticed the unusual changes in your field of vision. I have experienced my own visual changes that caused me to seek urgent treatment. I am not a medical expert, but a fellow patient, and I want to share this link to Mayo Patient Health information before your appointment.

You mentioned that you have other eye conditions. Do you have an optometrist or an opthamologist who has been treating you? The reason that I ask is because Optometrists and Ophthalmologists often work together to take care of you. The optometrist will take care of Vision and eye care, and the Opthamologist has a medical degree to provide Medical and surgical care.

Your concern is my concern, too. If this is still going on, Please call the doctor's office, and report what is going on. Maybe you can get in to see sooner.

Hobbes777, If you feel an urgent need to be seen, some doctors have a 24/7 contact phone. Let me know what you find out.

PS, In my own situation, I called my Primary Care Doctor, and he got me in to see the opthamologist.


@hobbes777 Do you think it could be related to a migraine? Some people get some vision changes with those. I don't get them, but here is some information.

As a person who is older and has had to accept some permanent changes myself, you'll need to learn to accept what you cannot change. There is a lot beyond our control, and you can cause other health problems with stress and worry that are worse. Stress is a factor in at least 80% of diseases including cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Perhaps you can focus on what you look at instead of trying to look at the stuff inside your eyes. Of course, do what you can to improve your health and see your doctors, but with age come changes, and they are not all so bad. I've got floaters in my vision and a detached vitreous which moves around in my eye like a cloudy glob before it settles. It's annoying to me because I'm an artist, but I just have to slow down and wait. I still can do my art work. I can't get my younger eyes back, so I accept this with grace and gratitude that I can see and enjoy living.


Thanks so much Rosemary and Jennifer.

Rosemary: I haven't seen an eye doctor of any kind in many years, unfortunately, but again I'm looking to rectify that late this week.

Jennifer: As far as I know I've never had a migraine, although I'm starting to learn now about occular migraines, but I'm not sure that's what this is. I am really trying to be open to accepting this if it can't be changed, but I admit I'm failing at that so far. I know I have to keep trying.


@hobbes777 You might want to look at these books by a Mayo doctor, Dr. Amit Sood. I bought these myself and found them very helpful in helping me realize that there were other ways to think about things.

Everyone has things in their lives that they wish they could change, and sometimes it's having to deal with adversity. What you can control is how you view and think about something, and these books can teach you how to do that with resilience and gratitude. He has some videos too that you can search for, but here is his Ted Talk. Hopefully you will get some answers about your vision, but understand that sometimes health answers are a process, and something might be missed or misdiagnosed for years and that is very common. As humans, our brains are wired to respond to stress first and above everything else because that is a survival mechanism of our species. Understanding this allows you to move your thinking past that and reduce the stress in your life.


Hi! How are you doing now? I've had the exact same thing happening to me including the 3-4 days of no eating due to stress! i didn't see the blind spot you were talking about it was litterly just increased 'grain' or visual snow, i also have this when i close my eyes! how are you doing now? please update man!


Hello @hobbes777

I would like to add my welcome to Mayo Connect. As Rosemary (@rosemarya) said, we are not medical professionals, but patients like yourself who offer support and encouragement. As has been said previously, I would encourage you to see an ophthalmologist. An opthmalogist is an MD who has special training in eye disorders. When you see your optometrist, you might ask for a referral to an ophthalmologist.

Also, I'm wondering if you have had a complete physical recently. There are many physical problems that can lead to vision problems. If you have not had a physical exam in the last year, I would encourage you to see a primary care physician for a physical that would include blood tests for metabolic functioning as well as tests for thyroid functioning.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you again. As you have an upcoming appointment with an optometrist, will you post again after that appointment?


Hi! How are you doing now? I've had the exact same thing happening to me including the 3-4 days of no eating due to stress! i didn't see the blind spot you were talking about it was litterly just increased 'grain' or visual snow, i also have this when i close my eyes! how are you doing now? please update man!

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Welcome @jaja122. I'm sorry to hear that you are experiencing stress to the point that you didn't eat for 3 to 4 days. Was the stress caused by your concern for what is happening to your vision or is the stress from a different cause and potentially contributing the the vision issues? Have you talked to a doctor about both the eye issues and coping with stress?




@jaja122, I see that it has been 4 days since you posted. As a patient with an eye problem of my own, I am concerned about what you have decided to do about the snowy vision that you are experiencing. When I once developed sparkling lights when I closed my eyes, I called my primary care doctor for a prompt appointment. He referred my to an ophthalmologist and I was able to get treatment before more damage was done to my vision.

Have you contacted a doctor or ophthalmologist yet?


Is there a hospital near you, hobbes777, that has an department totally dedicated to eye ailments and such? I am in a small City with several Optometrists and a couple of Ophthalmologists who do their best but when I went to a hospital that actually teaches future "eye doctors" they had so much more equipment, knowledge, etc. Unfortunately I got some other health issues and could not continue returning there for checkups but the Head of the Glaucoma Department actually wrote to my optometrist with suggestions etc.
I still have issues with floaters from pre-Glaucoma; I also have had occular migraines since a child..... its horrible and yes scary...but having been seen by top experts in the field it's as far as I can go. I try and donate some $$$ to that hospital department when I can to help others....and I don't know how many thousands of dollars I have spent on various eye medications which are not covered by prescription/free..also have chronic dry eyes..... this along with other illnesses physical and mental (depression and anxiety) have been hard to live with but at 77 I am still chugging along. I understand your fear, it's real. It is worse for some sufferers than others .... and I envy those who seem to be able to conquer their fears, and sympathize with those who cant. Best wishes. J.S. Ontario

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