Smittythepig: thank you so much for your response. Its so funny you talk about ssri's because I was on Paxil for 7 years and have been off it for 4 months (completely, pain to get off but did it!). Can you describe your trails for me. I'd like to see if they are the same as mine. I seriously have never met someone with the same visual disturbances...are yours 24/7. Also, have you had tests done to rule things out. Im just scared because the trails started this year after being put on Lamictal (was put on it when doctors thought I had seizure disorder which was a misdiagnosis so they took me off). So trails started after coming off Lamictal. Do you think this condition is life threatening. And also, it must be rare right, since doctors don't seem to know much about it. What is your personal opinion on the cause?
actually, if you search the internet for visual snow you will find a surprisingly large number of people who experience this. and though there are many similarities between these people and their experiences, there are also many differences. some have used illicit drugs, some haven't. some started having problems after using legal drugs. some have had the visual disturbances cease eventually, some haven't. but all seem to have anxiety issues.
the trails i mention are basically just a certain sensitivity to light kind of like a long-exposure camera where a light will pass you but you will see a trail of the same light for a certain period of time (a couple of moments) afterwards. it's like your brain doesn't follow the light quick enough or something and in your mind the light stays longer in a certain place than it would with someone who has 'normal' vision.
and as for the visual snow, a lot of people are suggesting that maybe the brain isn't filtering out a lot of the 'noise' that it normally would and this manifests itself as sparkles and static in the visual field. it may be that our ocular nerves are too sensitive and our brains just aren't filtering things out as effectively as it should. there are a lot of things out there that our eyes cannot see, or that they do 'see' on some level but are ignored by the brain due to evolutionary design (i think). i am thinking about the fact, for example, that bees see ultraviolet light that is invisible to humans. but the UV light is still entering the eye. we just don't have a receptor to pick up that info and send it on to the brain for processing. but it suggests i guess that minor differences in the way the senses function could result in seeing something that someone else can't. or maybe it's just a visual version of the tingling, pins and needles sensation you can get if you cut off blood flow to a part of the body.
the bottom line i think is that there is no indication whatsoever that this is life-threatening. just about everyone who i've read about having this (except for me have had tons of tests done to rule anything out and no one ever comes back with any problems. unfortunately that also means that currently no one is entirely certain what causes all of this. there are a few things that might cause similar symptoms that are in fact more serious, like retinal detachment or macular degeneration. but it's easy to have these things checked out and to rule them out as possibilities. i have experienced these things in varying degrees for 15 years (i am 30 now). it's pretty much 24/7. but like i said, i have gone long periods where i haven't noticed it as much or at all.
by the way, i also have floaters, which are also not a serious problem. just annoying. and oddly these, too, are often less or completely not noticeable at times. apparently they are little pieces of like cellular material floating around in the fluid in the eye.
it never hurts to mention your symptoms and history to a doctor and/or therapist. i'm just going by all the stuff i have read on the internet over the years.