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Suggest treatment for visual hallucinations

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Posted on Wed, 9 Dec 2015
Question: So, I have been having problems with my sight. I think I see a lion while driving, but it turns out to be a rock. That doesn't stop me from swerving. I recently thought that a giant bolt made of wire was rolling down the highway towards me, but it was just a guardrail. I was used to this happening while driving, but while I was walking my dog in the park the other day I thought I saw a bear and it took me a little while to figure out that it was actually a woman. Do I have a vision problem, a different problem or are these all normal?
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Answered by Dr. Alexander H. Sheppe (11 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Consultation

Detailed Answer:
Thanks very much for your premium question.

There is a distinction between an illusion and a hallucination that is very important. A hallucination is when you see something that is actually not there, and believe it to be what you see even when evidence to the contrary is produced. An illusion is when you see something as something other than it is, but then change your mind when you get a closer look. It appears you are seeing things like guardrails, rocks, and a woman as something other than they are, but on closer inspection you are able to distinguish what you thought you saw from actual reality. This indicates a problem with your vision, your eyes, or the parts of your brain that process visual information, but I would not call this a hallucination as part of a primary psychiatric disorder. I would mention it to your psychiatrist, but also get your vision checked by an optometrist, and possibly consult an opthalmologist about this issue. Let me know how it goes!

In the future, for continuity of care, I encourage you to reach out to me at my direct link below. My name is Dr. Sheppe, and I am an XXXXXXX doctor working in New York City at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, ranked #1 for Psychiatry in the United States. For a personalized comprehensive evaluation, treatment recommendations, or individual therapy, ask me at HealthCareMagic at this private link: tinyurl.com/DrSheppeAnswers
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D
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Follow up: Dr. Alexander H. Sheppe (33 hours later)
I asked an online opthemologist and he is insisting it is drug induced because I take ambien. Even when I mentioned that I wasn't taking ambien during the times when it happened. It happened for a little while in college too and I was never on medication until this year so I'm not sure why he keeps on insisting that it is drug induced.

Anyway, he is insisting that it is not an eye sight problem since it does not happen all of the time. What are your thoughts? At night I have a lot of trouble driving because the rays from the lights are really distracting and look like they are coming into my car. Do you think he is just wrong? I would like to fix this issue as I travel quite frequently for business and dont want to endanger myself or others (I'm not worried about endangering anyone while walking).
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Answered by Dr. Alexander H. Sheppe (11 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Followup

Detailed Answer:
I have to say I strongly disagree with an opthalmologist giving you any advice without conducting an exam. As you say, you were not taking Ambien during these times, it has happened before you were taking Ambien, and in any event in my experience Ambien does not cause what you describe. This question cannot be answered without performing an eye exam. I would visit an opthalmologist in-person and have an exam, as this is the only proper way to assess your eyes.

Please remember to rate and close this question when you are finished.

In the future, for continuity of care, I encourage you to reach out to me at my direct link below. My name is Dr. Sheppe, and I am an XXXXXXX doctor working in New York City at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, ranked #1 for Psychiatry in the United States (http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings/psychiatry). For a personalized comprehensive evaluation, treatment recommendations, or individual therapy, ask me at HealthCareMagic at this private link: tinyurl.com/DrSheppeAnswers
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad
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Dr. Alexander H. Sheppe

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Practicing since :2014

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Suggest treatment for visual hallucinations

Brief Answer: Consultation Detailed Answer: Thanks very much for your premium question. There is a distinction between an illusion and a hallucination that is very important. A hallucination is when you see something that is actually not there, and believe it to be what you see even when evidence to the contrary is produced. An illusion is when you see something as something other than it is, but then change your mind when you get a closer look. It appears you are seeing things like guardrails, rocks, and a woman as something other than they are, but on closer inspection you are able to distinguish what you thought you saw from actual reality. This indicates a problem with your vision, your eyes, or the parts of your brain that process visual information, but I would not call this a hallucination as part of a primary psychiatric disorder. I would mention it to your psychiatrist, but also get your vision checked by an optometrist, and possibly consult an opthalmologist about this issue. Let me know how it goes! In the future, for continuity of care, I encourage you to reach out to me at my direct link below. My name is Dr. Sheppe, and I am an XXXXXXX doctor working in New York City at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, ranked #1 for Psychiatry in the United States. For a personalized comprehensive evaluation, treatment recommendations, or individual therapy, ask me at HealthCareMagic at this private link: tinyurl.com/DrSheppeAnswers