Spotlight on: Eanna Balderrama 👁 @eya.manila

“My name’s Eanna, recently turned 19, & live in the Philippines. Ever since I could read & write, I’ve been experiencing the symptoms of Visual Snow Syndrome. It didn’t help I had hyperthyroidism, myopia & astigmatism, so I thought the flares, visual static, & afterimages were simply part of it.

In 5th grade, I realized I was different from my other spectacle wearing classmates; blurry eyesight should only mean having blurry eyesight, nothing else. I called them “Pixies” to make a somewhat logical – albeit supernatural – explanation, thinking I had some sort of superpower to be able to see the magical atomical structure of earth. It wasn’t until my tinnitus, brain fog, nausea, & migraines got worse at 12 yrs old that I begged my family to get me diagnosed by a doctor. 6 months of hospital hopping, dozens of Ophthalmologists, Neurologists & Psychiatrists, countless tests/labs later, I found the answer in one Dr. Mariano (Neuro-Ophthalmology) at the most expensive hospital uptown.

Before that session, my family was getting tired of hospital trips & expenses. My peers, teachers, & relatives dismissed my pain, countless other doctors either misdiagnosed me with another illness or labeled me a liar. I was at the darkest point of my life – mentally, emotionally & physically. Which is why I can’t tell you how much relief I felt when Dr. Mariano finally told me (& my parents) I wasn’t crazy. Although I did cry while laughing.

Being diagnosed is already half a cure. The symptoms of VSS may still be there, but the support of loved ones & proactive attitude towards a healthy lifestyle do a whole lot of alleviation. With constant efforts to spread knowledge of this illness & encourage donations to fund research, I’m sure the time will come.

To all the other warriors with VS still struggling, have faith. You’re not alone in this. Let’s keep smiling & fighting together!”

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