Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for Visual Snow Syndrome

Welcome to our guide on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for Visual Snow Syndrome (VSS). This guide will provide you with information about MBCT, including what it is and how it is being studied as an effective treatment option for VSS.

What is MBCT?

MBCT is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention that combines elements of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This approach can help target dysfunctional neural pathways, alleviate debilitating symptoms, reduce anxiety and/or depression, manage stress, enhance concentration, and aid in pain management.

Research into MBCT and mindfulness-based interventions has revealed enhancements in psychological resilience, physical health (including immune function), and neural changes associated with psychological well-being.

In recent clinical trials, MBCT has been modified by researchers to treat VSS and also target its visual symptoms (MBCT-vision), including trailing phenomenon, photophobia (extreme light sensitivity), and visual aura. Researchers have now identified measurable, positive differences in brain activity for VSS patients after MBCT intervention.

Current and Future MBCT Studies

Dr. Sui Wong, Neurologist, Neuro-ophthalmologist, Vice President of the UK Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, and Consultant for St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Moorfields Private Eye Hospital, has conducted the first-ever research study in which MBCT was utilized as a treatment for VSS. Study participants underwent MBCT to test its effectiveness at managing and improving the debilitating visual and non-visual symptoms of VSS. MBCT-vision, which refers to the use of MBCT to specifically treat visual symptoms, was used to address common visual phenomena associated with VSS, such as trailing phenomenon, photophobia, and visual aura. Partially funded by the Visual Snow Initiative (VSI), Dr. Wong’s study marks the first-ever investigation of a cognitive behavioral and mindfulness-based intervention within the VSS patient population.

Findings revealed that MBCT/MBCT-vision was successful in reducing symptoms of VSS in the majority of the study participants. In addition to symptom reduction, brain scans of study participants before, during, and after MBCT were taken and measurable, positive differences in brain activity for those with VSS were shown. Dr. Wong presented her findings at the 2023 North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS) Conference, and her study will soon be published in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology. These promising results support the need for further investigation into MBCT and its potential benefits for VSS patients. VSI and Dr. Wong are exploring a second, larger MBCT and VSS Randomized Control Trial (RCT).

Additional Resources

For further queries regarding MBCT/MBCT-vision, please contact: [email protected]

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