Q: My wife is blind due to glaucoma and sometimes she visualizes extremely bright lights, which disturb her emotionally and keeps her from sleeping. Is this a common symptom?

A: Since the significant amount of vision loss is due to glaucoma, the bright lights phenomena may be a form of visual hallucinations. Although rare, visual hallucinations can be experienced by people suffering from various levels of vision impairment. Visual hallucinations can be associated with many other psychiatric, neurologic, toxic and metabolic diseases, therefore evaluations by a psychiatrist, neurologist, ophthalmologist, and primary care provider for medication review are absolutely necessary. If the visual hallucinations are a result of eye disease and the individual does not have any psychiatric conditions, neurologic disease, toxic or metabolic disease, or the vision hallucinations are not a side effect of medications, then this form of visual hallucinations is called Charles Bonnet Syndrome. – Linda Pang, O.D. at Lighthouse International

Q: If one parent and one great-grandparent have retinitis pigmentosa, does it make sense to have genetic testing for the disease?

A: Genetic testing is important for patients with retinitis pigmentosa to determine its inheritance pattern, management, prognosis of the condition as well as the likelihood of passing on the condition to future children. Retinitis pigmentosa can be inherited in a few ways: autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, x-linked, or sporadic. It is highly recommended that patients with retinitis pigmentosa undergo genetic testing. – Linda Pang, O.D. at Lighthouse International



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