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Perceptual disorders hallucinations auditory hallucination hypnagogic hallucination visual hallucination causes of hallucinations diagnosis of hallucination treatments for hallucinations

What is visual hallucination?

Visual hallucination is the most common type of hallucination in dementia. The person may see people, animals or other objects. Sometimes the hallucinations involve quite complicated scenes or bizarre situations. Visual hallucinations can start with misinterpretations. The person may think they see faces or objects in swirling patterns on fabrics or in the

shadows in a room, for instance. Many people with dementia who experience visual hallucinations only experience them occasionally. Moreover they often only last a few seconds. However, sometimes they are more persistent and troublesome.

Visual hallucinations may occur both as formed objects like stars or other recognizable objects or may be unformed as in flashes and spots. The formed images may represent misunderstanding of information in the brain or background "noise" from the disruption of brain tissue that is needed to process the information. People who have persistent visual hallucinations together with stiffness and slowing of movement, or marked fluctuations in their abilities, are likely to have Lewy body dementia. If this is the case, anti-psychotic medication, which is sometimes given for troublesome hallucinations, can make any stiffness worse. It should therefore only be prescribed in low doses, if at all, and regularly reviewed.

Visual hallucinations are one of the hallmarks of dementia with Lewy bodies disease, or DLB, a degenerative neurological illness that, like the better-known and more common Alzheimer's disease, robs its victims of their minds - and eventually their lives. In this type of dementia the person usually has a mixture of the symptoms found in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. In some people it shares symptoms with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, but DLB tends to progress more rapidly. For all three, there is no known cure, just treatment for some of the symptoms.

A separate but related cause of visual hallucinations is called Charles Bonnet Syndrome. It occurs in patients with significant loss of vision. The hallucinations from Charles Bonnet Syndrome are often very detailed such as a group of people, a truck or an animal. These are not psychotic in nature but simply represent the brains attempt to interpret the impaired information and find a mental image to match the incoming message.

More information on hallucinations

What are hallucinations? - Hallucinations are sensations that are not real. Any of the senses can be involved. Illusions are different from hallucinations.
What is auditory hallucination? - Auditory hallucination occurs when people hear voices or other noises although nothing is there. Auditory hallucinations can range from primitive noises to speech and music.
What is hypnagogic hallucination? - Hypnagogic hallucination is episodes of seeing and hearing things as one is falling asleep. Hypnagogic hallucinations can occur at sleep onset.
What is visual hallucination? - Visual hallucination is the most common type of hallucination in dementia. Visual hallucinations can start with misinterpretations.
What causes hallucinations? - There are numerous medical and psychiatric causes of hallucinations. Some of the common causes include drugs, stress, sleep deprivation and/or exhaustion.
How is hallucination diagnosed? - Aside from hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations, more than one event suggests a person should seek evaluation.
What're the treatments for hallucinations? - Hallucinations that are symptomatic of a mental illness such as schizophrenia should be treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005