Ophthalmology Times: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy shows promise in alleviating Visual Snow Syndrome

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An investigative team from Moorfields Eye Hospital and Guy’s and St. Thomas’, London, is examining the role of mindfulness in potentially helping people who have visual snow syndrome, according to a press release from Moorfields Eye Hospital.

Patients affected by visual snow syndrome report persistent flickering white, black, transparent, or colored dots that resemble static from old television sets or as if they are looking through a snow globe. The syndrome results from a disruption in the brain networks that involves the visual pathway. This untreatable condition often is associated with migraine and tinnitus.

The new study is underway at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Guy’s and St. Thomas’ and is led by Sui Wong, MD, a consultant neurologist and neuro-ophthalmologist. In this study, the investigators use mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on patients who have never previously practiced the technique, with the aim of possibly re-training their brains to remove their static-type images, according to the press release.

The study follows a recently reported feasibility study published in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology conducted by the same team. Participants in the study underwent an 8-week course of MBCT in small groups followed by functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for some participants. The feasibility study, which ended in 2022, found that the participants reported visual improvements that were reflected in the results of their functional MRI scans.

According to Wong, “This research uses mindfulness training as a potential treatment for visual snow. Our feasibility study on functional MRI scans already showed it can improve visual snow symptoms, correlating with a change in the brain’s visual network – like a form of brain training to modify brain pathways.”

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