Author: Vanessa Mora
Role: Director of Research at VSI

Interview With:

Simon Saryazdi
Sussex, England

In my recent conversation with Simon Saryazdi, a doctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Sussex is currently creating a scale to measure the traits associated with Visual Snow Syndrome (VSS) and Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). He states that the scale will indicate the level of a patients’ symptoms and will hopefully be a tool utilized as the foundation for future research.

Simon states that other scales exist, including the patient quality questionnaire or the visual functioning questionnaire, which measure the impact and level of patients’ traits and states. However, one of the unique aspects of Simon’s questionnaire is that it is precisely for VSS, and it incorporates illustrations and animations. Hence, patients can distinguish the symptoms they are experiencing.

How does it work?

Simon gives an example: “If there are 50 questions and each question is scored from one to five, a patient could score a minimum of 0 up to a maximum of 250.” Essentially there can be a calculation conducted through clinical trials to define a diagnostic cutoff point to be diagnosed with VSS, as well as a differential cutting point to be diagnosed with HPPD.

According to Simon, everyone’s brain is different; therefore, VSS traits may be associated with other psychophysical types. Using this scale in combination with psychophysical attributes allows researchers to correlate this. For example, a patient with Visual Snow Syndrome has a differential sensitivity to motion, providing the participant with a task to locate randomly moving dots. We can correlate those scores with the questionnaire results based on their visual system sensitivity. Overall, certain patients with specific symptoms may perform differently on psychophysical experiments or brain scans, and potentially they can respond differently to a treatment.

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