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Tips for Coping with Macular Degeneration Hallucinations

Joshua Dunaief, MD, PhD

Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania

  • Expert Advice
Published on:
A hand turning on a light.

Learn some helpful tips for managing symptoms of Charles Bonnet syndrome.

While there is no proven treatment for Charles Bonnet syndrome, the following techniques have been suggested to deal with the hallucinations:

  • Turn on a light.
  • Concentrate on or look at something else.
  • Move the eyes rapidly back and forth.
  • Close the eyes then open them again, or
  • Stand up.

In some people, about a year after onset, the hallucinations may become less frequent. Also, they are more likely to occur during periods of relative inactivity; therefore, distractions, such as watching television, can be helpful. Many patients and their family members have been greatly relieved just to know that these visual hallucinations are a common and expected side effect of losing central vision rather than an indication of diminished mental abilities or mental illness. Some have even found them entertaining once they realize the syndrome is benign, and not a sign of brain illness. This is especially true given that the images themselves are rarely threatening or frightening.

About the author

Headshot of Dr. Joshua Dunaief

Joshua Dunaief, MD, PhD

Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania

Joshua Dunaief, MD, received his BA magna cum laude in Biology from Harvard (1987), MD/PhD from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons (1996), completed ophthalmology residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins in 2000, and medical retina fellowship at Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania in 2004.

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