Macular Degeneration — hallucinations

Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration

Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration 0

Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration

Symptoms of degrading vision often build slowly and go unnoticed for a long period of  time until they reach a degree of severity that may no longer be ignored. One may notice that he or she now needs glasses to read the text of a favorite book or magazine. Headaches grow more frequent - the result of constantly strained eye muscles. Once bright and vibrant colors may even take on more dull and muted hues.

While many conditions may result in impaired vision, wet macular degeneration is one of the most common culprits. According to, when one is afflicted with this form of macular degeneration the membrane beneath the retina thickens and eventually breaks, disrupting the supply of critical oxygen to the macula. In response to this assault, the body forms new, abnormal blood vessels which grow up from beneath the retina toward the macula. These new blood vessels are quite delicate and are prone to leaking, which leads to scarring of the macula. This causes damage to both the retina and macula and often results in a rapid degradation of vision that, once lost, cannot be restored.

As is often the case with illness, catching wet macular degeneration early is key so one may take action to minimize its negative effects. While the condition is fairly serious, there exist several treatment options that can be highly effective if applied early. Following are a few telltale signs of wet macular degeneration.

  • Slightly blurred vision
  • Visual distortions in which straight lines may appear curved or crooked
  • Blind spots that most often appear in the middle of the visual field and that grow larger if left untreated
  • Hallucinations that involve seeing objects, animals, or people that aren’t actually present

Along with watching for symptoms, it is also important to know the risk factors for wet macular degeneration. Taking steps to reduce these risk factors is a critical step to take along the path of risk reduction. Additional risk factors for developing this condition include:

AMD Macular Degeneration   AMD Macular Degeneration

Knowledge is power. With an increased awareness of both symptoms and risk factors, one can detect and guard against the development of wet macular degeneration before it has a chance to threaten his or her vision. Additionally, eliminating the additional risk factors for this condition will not only help to protect one’s vision, it will also contribute to an overall greater level of health and vitality.

One Love,

Dr. Jenna Zigler, Eye Love

Dr. Jenna Zigler


Hallucinations Associated with Macular Degeneration

Hallucinations Associated with Macular Degeneration 0

Hallucinations Associated with Macular Degeneration 

An issue sometimes confronting people with advanced macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts is visual hallucinations. These type of hallucinations are due to a condition called Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Charles Bonnet was a Swiss philosopher in the 18th century who recognized that his grandfather’s visual hallucinations were due to his eye disorder, not mental illness.

The brain creates these hallucinations because the normal amount of visual stimulus coming from the eyes is greatly reduced. The images are often complex, including detailed patterns or even fully formed images such as animals, artwork, faces, or scenery. These episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to hours. People are reluctant to mention the hallucinations because they think it suggests mental illness, but it is really just a common consequence of impaired vision.

Individuals with Charles Bonnet Syndrome are often aware that the images are not real. In contrast, people with psychiatric illnesses may experience delusions in which they completely believe the hallucinations they see are real. These psychiatric delusions may include hearing voices as well.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is often compared to phantom limb syndrome which is a condition in which amputees still “feel” an amputated limb. This is due to the cells in the brain, responsible for sensing that limb, continuing to fire signals despite the limb’s absence. Also, in Charles Bonnet Syndrome, the part of the brain responsible for visual images creates illusions when it lacks input from the macula in the eye.

Coping with the Hallucinations

There is no proven treatment for Charles Bonnet Syndrome, but the following techniques are recommended for coping with hallucinations:

  • Turn on a light or several lights
  • Concentrate on something else
  • Rapidly move the eyes back and forth
  • Close then open the eyes again
  • Stand up

For many people, after about a year, the hallucinations become less frequent. The hallucinations are more likely to occur during periods of inactivity; therefore distractions, like watching television, might be helpful. Many people and their family members have been greatly relieved just to know that the visual disturbances are an expected side effect of losing central vision, rather than an indication of diminished mental capacities. The images themselves are rarely threatening or frightening.

Instead of not speaking up about these experiences, it’s best to tell a doctor about them so coping techniques can be utilized and the patients can be assured that these phenomena are common for many eye disorders, including advanced macular degeneration. This is not to diminish the fear and discomfort they cause the person suffering with Charles Bonnet Syndrome, but at least you know you’re not alone! Have you ever experienced hallucinations due to poor vision? Let us know about your experience!

One Love,

Dr. Jenna Zigler, Eye Love

Dr. Jenna Zigler


Other Macular Degeneration articles by Dr. Zigler: Managing Macular Degeneration: Diet and LifestyleHow Fast Does Macular Degeneration Progress?Will I Go Blind From Macular Degeneration?

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