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OPTICAL ILLUSIONS

Hallucinations in people who are mentally normal, once considered extremely rare, may be relatively common, especially among older people with vision problems.

A study of 505 individuals reveals that 11 percent of them experienced vivid hallucinations, although all of them were aware of the unreal nature of their hallucinations, said Dr. Robert J. Teunisse of the University Hospital Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

In the past, people were afraid to report hallucinations for fear of being considered insane, he reported in the British medical journal Lancet. In these people, hallucinations were not accompanied by delusions. "There is no proven treatment, but many patients will benefit from reassurance that their hallucinations do not imply mental illness," he said.

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