There are many ways to test for mold, and a lot of the methods of testing can be costly and invasive. Whether you decided to test your home for mold, or test for mycotoxins in your body, it is important to evaluate what tests are right for you, and within your budget. In this blog post we will look at one unique test that is often used by some practitioners to indicate mold-related issues within the body.
The Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test
The VCS test (the Visual Contrast Sensitivity) is an evaluation sometimes used by practitioners to help identify possible mold toxicity in the human body. While the test was not developed to detect mold, it can help measure visual function, which can often be affected by mold exposure. In combination with other methods of testing, the VCS test can be used to help provide information that may point to possible mold-related health issues.
The VCS test measures a person’s ability to distinguish between colors and shades of gray, in low contrast situations. The test evaluates the person’s sensitivity to changes in contrast, which can point to neurological disorders or certain eye conditions or visual impairments. Failing the VCS test can indicate an issue, and further testing should be done.
Dr. Shoemaker and VCS testing
Shoemaker VCS (Visual Contrast Sensitivity) testing was developed by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, a doctor who is known for his extensive work related to mold illness. The Shoemaker VCS utilized a computer-based program to allow an individual select responses based on images with different levels of contrast. The results of the test reveal valuable information about the person’s sensitivity in discerning visual contrast. According to the website where you go to purchase and take the test, the VCS test has 92% accuracy rate in detecting exposure to mold and/or other biotoxins such as Lyme, cyanobacteria, and dinoflagellates.
The theory is that people with mold toxicity, or those exposed to mold toxins or suffering from mold-related illnesses such as CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome), will experience issues related to their visual contrast sensitivity. This issue with discerning visual contrast is correlated with mycotoxins impacting the nervous system and causing a decline in the visual contrast acuity.
CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome)
CIRS is a term coined by Dr Shoemaker to to detail the symptoms he was seeing in patients with illness resulting from exposure to biotoxins and mold. The main source of exposure to these toxic compounds are buildings associated with water damage and thus as a results, toxic mold. The common symptoms of CIRS he observed were:
- Cognitive difficulties
- Respiratory problems
- Joint pain
- Digestive issues
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Neurological symptoms
As you can see from the above list, CIRS is considered a multi-system, multi-symptom illness, and because of this, diagnosis can be difficult and complex. That is why many practitioners start with the simplicity of the VCS test, and continue to explore possibilities from there.
What Does a Positive VCS Test Mean?
A positive VCS test is not a complete picture for diagnosis. The test will not reveal which chronic inflammatory response syndrome you have, but it will indicate that you should likely test for which biotoxin is causing your symptoms. It will reveal with 92% accuracy that your body is responding to some sort of biotoxin. False positives are rare.
The VCS mold test is affordable (at the time of this blog post one test is $15), and the results are immediate, which may be a quick way to determine if you should continue to look at the possibility that you are suffering from Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or another mold or biotoxin illness.
While many practitioners use and find the VCS test valuable for determining mycotoxin-related health issues, there are those who refute the reliability of the test, and argue other tests, assessments, and diagnostic tools should be used to determine mold-related conditions.