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Visual Hallucinations From Retinal Detachment Misdiagnosed as Psychosis

Brda, David MD*; Tang, Eric Chun-Hin

Journal of Psychiatric Practice: March 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 2 - p 133–136
doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000396066.79719.c5
Clinical Case Discussion

Hallucinations are a common presenting symptom in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. In particular, auditory hallucinations, such as hearing voices, are the most common type of hallucination described in schizophrenia, while visual hallucinations are less frequently seen. Hallucinations are also present in disorders that are not primarily psychotic in nature, including mood disorders, substance-induced disorders, and psychosis due to a general medical condition. However, it is extremely important to rule out general medical causes of hallucinations, as they are often treatable and reversible, and if left untreated, the underlying non-psychiatric disorders causing them can lead to irreversible damage. We present a case in which a 48-year-old woman with schizophrenia began to complain of visual disturbances. Because of her delusional interpretation of these disturbances, they were initially attributed to psychosis, but the disturbances were in fact found to be the result of a retinal detachment. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice. 2011;17:133–136).

*New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Department of Psychiatry

Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.