Seeing things

I never knew, but now I learned.

A very high proportion of people with sight loss experience hallucinations.

It’s hard to say how many suffer; some estimates suggest that as many as 40% of people who have vision loss experience some form of hallucination

I’ll try to go through the statistics in a later post but the proportion of sufferers seems to be between 15% and 40% of people with vision loss. Why should the proportion be so hard to pin down? The opinion seems to be that the syndrome is under reported because people don’t want to describe their symptoms. This is very understandable because if you tell people you are seeing imaginary things they may find that hard to deal with.

Still I can do a few sums. There are about 300 million people in the world who have sight loss. About 2 million of these are in the UK.  That  means that at a bare minimum 300,000 people in the United Kingdom alone are suffering from hallucinations which are entirely to do with their sight loss.

 So  what sort of hallucinations do sufferers see? Apparently amongst other things people, cartoon characters, animals and even plants, as well as abstract figures. I didn’t see any plants.

I did see all the other categories and also various kinds of light. Fiery sparks seemed to describe graceful trajectories, flying past my head and making me jump. Others  were like string lights. There  were faces, some seemed to be my own reflection but much younger.  Others were people running, or groups of dogs. I can’t really describe it because is all these visions faded away very quickly.

I’m really surprised to find that there must be many many people who experience hallucinations caused by the damage to their vision, and live with it on a daily basis, but probably never mentioning it to any other person.


About partialinsight

One evening I had a stroke. Half my sight vanished overnight. Adapting made me grasp how amazing the visual system and brain are. It also taught me to understand disability completely differently and I'm grateful for the lesson.
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One Response to Seeing things

  1. Clutter says:

    A few months ago, on In Sight, a woman with wet macular disease described seeing ghosts from the waist up only around her bed. She was initially frightened but came to realise in time that there was nothing threatening about them.

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