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Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder

Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder is a disorder to which continual presence of sensory disturbances, most commonly visual, that are reminiscent of those generated by the use of hallucinogenic substances.

Symptoms

There are a number of perceptual changes that can accompany HPPD. Typical symptoms of the disorder include: halos or auras surrounding objects, trails following objects in motion, difficulty distinguishing between colors, apparent shifts in the hue of a given item, the illusion of movement in a static setting, air assuming a grainy or textured quality (visual snow or static, by popular description, not to be confused with normal “blue field entoptic phenomenon”), distortions in the dimensions of a perceived object, and a heightened awareness of floaters. The visual alterations experienced by those with HPPD are not homogeneous and there appear to be individual differences in both the number and intensity of symptoms.

Visual aberrations can occur periodically in healthy individuals. There is some uncertainty about to what degree visual snow constitutes a true HPPD symptom. There are many individuals who have never used a drug which could have caused the onset, but yet experience the same grainy vision reported by HPPD sufferers. There are a few potential reasons for this, the most obvious of which being the theory that the drug usage may exaggerate the intensity of visual snow. Another theory is that instead, there may be no change in the severity or magnitude of the visual snow, but perhaps the drug usage opens sensory pathways that result in the individual becoming more aware of any visual disturbances that may have simply not been noticed before the incidence of drug use. As for root cause of visual snow, some theories suggest that it is the result of thermal noise in the visual cortex or in the ‘Optic Pathway’ (encompassing photoreceptor cells on the retina, the optic nerve, and the optic chiasm, as eye tests for individuals who experience visual snow often reveal that physically, the eye is perfectly normal, and in many cases the individual still maintains 20/20 vision.

HPPD usually has a visual manifestation. Drugs affecting the auditory sense, like DiPT, may produce auditory disturbances, though there are few known cases. Some psychedelic drugs can produce temporary tinnitus-like symptoms as a side effect.

The visuals do not constitute true hallucinations in the clinical sense of the word; people with HPPD recognize the visuals to be illusory, or pseudohallucinations, and thus maintain the ability to determine what is real.

Treatment

As yet, there is no cure available for HPPD.

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