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Metamorphopsia: types, symptoms and treatment

Metamorphopsia: types, symptoms and treatment

June 14, 2024

The perception is the ability of the human being to capture information from the surrounding environment, which after being processed allows us to react and adapt to the environment. The capture of this information is vital for survival, and depends to a large extent on our sensory organs.

However, sometimes our senses deceive us and perceive something that does not exist, or perceive something with characteristics that are far from the real. To this last assumption remains the phenomenon known as metamorphopsia .

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The concept of metamorphopsia

It is understood as metamorphopsia to a type of perceptual alteration in which the subject that suffers it captures the size or shape of the objects differently from how they really are. This type of perceptual alteration occurs at the visual level and is linked to the perception of distances.

It is a real perception of a stimulus that actually exists, although the object is perceived with characteristics that differ from the real ones. Metamorphopsia is therefore a type of perceptive distortion , in which a specific stimulus or stimuli is perceived in an anomalous way. In this way we are not dealing with a content that can be classified as a perceptual deception: it is not a hallucination.

As a general rule, the subject who suffers from some type of metamorphopsia is able to detect that their perception is distorted, not being oblivious to the fact that the shapes or sizes detected are not the correct ones . This can cause a high level of tension and anxiety to appear.

Metamorphopsia is not a disorder by itself, but is considered a symptom from which the existence of a medical or psychological problem can be inferred. It is not a dangerous condition by itself, although it can be annoying and can lead to erroneous judgments about reality . However, depending on the case, the problem that causes it may be of some severity.

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Appearance of this alteration

Metamorphopsia it is a perceptive distortion that can appear in very diverse conditions , both for biological causes and for psychic causes.

Frequently it appears before alterations of the cerebral nuclei in charge of the vision, as well as before epilepsy of parietal lobe or cerebral tumors. Of the same, traumatisms, cerebral infarcts, intracranial hemorrhages and other types of brain injury they can also cause it.

Also the eye and the retina are usually key points in the development of disorders that generate the appearance of metamorphopsias. It is common to appear in cases of macular degeneration , fractionation of the retina, vein infarcts of the retina, edema associated with age or even in some cases as an effect of diabetes, extreme myopia or inflammation resulting from surgeries.

Another factor linked to the appearance of metamorphopsia is the consumption of substances with psychoactive properties, being frequent the appearance of this symptom before the consumption of hallucinogens such as LSD or mescaline, narcotics or even some psychotropic drugs.

Sometimes can occur due to states of intense emotional activation like terror, anguish or anger. While it may appear in some mental disorders, it is not common. In the latter case, the disorder called Alice's syndrome in Wonderland stands out.

Different types of metamorphopsia

Metamorphopsia is a perceptive distortion that can be found in which different types of sensory alterations can appear. Broadly speaking we can find three great types of metamorphopsia .

1. Dismegalopsias

It is a type of metamorphopsia in which the alteration occurs in the uptake or perception of the size of the stimulus. If our perception of the stimulus is greater than its real size we are talking about a macropsy , whereas if we perceive something as smaller than it is we are talking about a micropsy.

2. Dismorfopsias

Dismorfopsia is understood as a type of metamorphopsia in which the aspect that is perceived distortively is the form of the stimulus in question. The most common is to see the objects or people deformed , as for example with undulations.

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3. Autometamorfopsia

Another type of metamorphopsia is found in autometamorphopsia, in which we perceive our own body in an anomalous way.

4. Inverted metamorphopsia

This type of metamorphopsia is not very common. In this case, it's not the way neither the size what appears distorted, but the spatial location . In this way, we can see the inverted things, as if we were hanging upside down or from different orientations.


Because it is a symptom and not a disorder itself, the choice of treatment or therapy to use will depend largely on the disease what generates it In general, the visual system should be reviewed to check if the problem of perception is due to visual or neurological alterations, as well as whether the subject has consumed psychoactive substances or is in some type of pharmacological treatment.

Likewise provide information to the subject about what is happening to him it is fundamental, since the perceptive alterations and especially the visual ones usually awaken a certain level of panic and anguish besides the uncertainty of why they see it that way.

Bibliographic references:

  • Belloch, A., Baños, R. and Perpiñá, C. (2008) Psychopathology of perception and imagination. In A. Belloch, B. Sandín and F. Ramos (Eds.) Manual of Psychopathology (2nd edition). Vol I. Madrid: McGraw Hill Interamericana.
  • Santos, J.L. (2012). Psychopathology. CEDE Preparation Manual PIR, 01. CEDE. Madrid.

What Is Metamorphopsia? (June 2024).

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