I was saddened to read of the death of the wonderful Oliver Sacks today. He announced in February that he had terminal cancer. He was a brilliant neurologist and speaker and I enjoyed his books and lectures. Visual hallucinations are very common among the mainly elderly patients I examine in practice. Often these patients are too frightened to admit to them unless questioned directly. The perception among the general public is that hallucinations = going mad. In fact some 10% of visually impaired people experience hallucinations and these have a name; Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Oliver Sacks himself was visually impaired and experienced these hallucinations first hand.
If you’ve never seen his captivating TED lecture on Charles Bonnet Syndrome you are missing a treat. I enclose a link here.
The image of Oliver Sacks is taken by Adam Scourfield/BBC/AP Photo/AP