• Who should my mother see for her visual hallucinations?


    Question:

    My mother is 94. She has macular degeneration (dry) and has been experiencing visual hallucinations. They seem to be getting worse. Should she see a specialist other than her ophthalmologist for help with this?


    Answer:

    Visual hallucinations associated with macular degeneration is known as Charles Bonnet syndrome and is relatively common in patients with severe visual loss. Although such hallucinations are disturbing, they do not mean that the disease is progressing. Most people with end-stage macular degeneration will maintain some visual acuity (sharpness) that allows them to move around.

    Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this condition other than explaining the phenomenon. I often use the phrase, "Your eyes are playing tricks on you," and I emphasize that the hallucinations are not a sign of mental or neurologic decline. These visual hallucinations will often change over time and may go away on their own.


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