What is Charles Bonnet syndrome?
Charles Bonnet syndrome is best described as someone getting visual hallucinations. It affects people who have reduced vision as a result of any eye condition e.g. macular degeneration, and causes the individual to see things that are not there.
What actually happens in Charles Bonnet syndrome?
In people with good vision, the eyes feed the brain with images, and the brain makes sense of it. When the vision is poor, the brain doesn’t get the information like it used to. The understanding we have is that, in some instances, the brain decides to fill this void of information and creates images which are not really there, and this is called Charles Bonnet syndrome. For example, a person with Charles Bonnet syndrome may be looking out of the window, and they may “see” a child playing on the street or a cat running past, which is not really there.
Does Charles Bonnet syndrome only affect older people?
No. Charles Bonnet syndrome can affect children as well as adults. It is distressing for any individual, but particularly more distressing for an older person because it can be misinterpreted as dementia. Some people are unfortunately forced to clam up due to the fear of being misdiagnosed, and Esme’s Umbrella are doing wonderful work to create more awareness.
What is the treatment for Charles Bonnet syndrome?
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Charles Bonnet syndrome. However, symptoms generally subside within 5 years of developing the sight loss. The important thing is to talk about it and create awareness.
Don’t keep quiet about Charles Bonnet syndrome. If you or a friend or relative are suffering from Charles Bonnet syndrome, it is best to discuss this with your eye care practitioner, and with family.
Useful link: visit Vision Aware for a more detailed explanation of Charles Bonnet syndrome.