Age-related Macular Degeneration

Frequently Asked Questions

12. What is Charles Bonnet syndrome (visual hallucinations)?

Sometimes people with impaired vision see things that are not there, called visual hallucinations. They may see simple patterns of colors or shapes, or detailed pictures of people animals, buildings, or landscapes. This is not a sign of mental illness, so do not worry. It is similar to what happens when some people who have lost an arm or a leg – even though the limb is gone these people still feel their toes or fingers. Similarly, when the brain loses input from the eyes, it may fill the void by generating visual images on its own. Charles Bonnet is a common side effect of vision loss in people with AMD, though it often goes away in a year or more.