Visual hallucinations immediately after macular photocoagulation

Am J Ophthalmol. 2000 Jun;129(6):815-6. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(00)00374-3.


Purpose: To evaluate the incidence of visual hallucinations after macular photocoagulation for choroidal neovascularization.

Methods: After macular photocoagulation for choroidal neovascularization, 60 consecutive patients were asked to respond to an orally administered questionnaire.

Results: Twenty-seven patients (45%) described photopsias, flashing lights of various colors. Ten additional patients (16.6%) also described structured hallucinations, including known or unknown faces, flowers, and geometric patterns, which occurred hours or a few days after photocoagulation. Patients with structured hallucinations were older (P =.04) and more often had subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (P =.005) and severe macular disease in both eyes or at least in the treated eye (P =.01).

Conclusions: Visual hallucinations appear to be a frequent, albeit unrecognized, side effect of macular photocoagulation of choroidal neovascularization. The provision of proper information to patients may avoid concern about a psychiatric origin of their hallucinations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Choroidal Neovascularization / surgery*
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Laser Coagulation / adverse effects*
  • Macula Lutea / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires