People With Vision Loss Can Experience Visual Hallucinations

“Phantom limb pain” is something we may have heard of, but it turns out that people who lose their vision often experience something similar.

Researchers who reported at the American Academy of Ophthalmology Joint Annual Meeting With the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology stated that patients with vision loss are much more likely to experience “vivid visual hallucinations” than previously believed.

Between 10-38% of those with vision loss from such conditions as macular degeneration, experience what is called Charles Bonnet syndrome.  The authors of the study wrote that patients experience  hallucinations such as “double-decker buses driving into the patient’s living room or people sitting on a couch.  These patients are diagnosed with the condition if they have both vision loss and the vivid hallucinations.

Researchers think that when the visual cortex doesn’t have valid sensory input the brain spontaneously provided remembered images – but this does not explain why all patients do not have the experience.  Medical professionals do not generally prescribe any particular treatment and feel that the patients with the condition gradually get used to it.

Published: Medscape Medical News