Rare condition caused patient to see ‘demonic’ faces, ‘vision impairment’ study finds

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It sounds like the stuff of horror movies – but for people who suffer from it rare disorderit is a frightening reality.

A condition called prosopometamorphopsia (PMO) causes facial features to appear distorted, according to researchers at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

A study published in The Lancet found that a 58-year-old man reported perceiving faces as distorted or “demonic” for two and a half years.

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“The patient reported that the distortions—highly elongated facial features with deep furrows on the forehead, cheeks, and chin—were present on the face of every person he encountered, but he reported no distortions when viewing objects such as houses or cars.” , the researchers write in the results.

The patient did not notice these distortions when viewing two-dimensional faces on printed paper or digital screens.

Computer-generated images of the distortions of a male face (top) and a female face (bottom) as perceived by a 58-year-old patient in a new study. (A. Mello et al.)

However, despite the distortions, the patient reported that he could recognize people.

After showing the man some images of a person on a screen, the researchers had him compare the images with the same person’s actual face.

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The patient gave feedback on the differences he perceived between the two – and the researchers used computers…

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