Charles Bonnet syndrome

Charles Bonnet syndrome is a condition where you see things that are not real (hallucinations). 

What is Charles Bonnet syndrome?

Charles Bonnet syndrome is a condition which can occur in anyone whose sight is deteriorating, and it causes them to experience visual hallucinations (seeing things which aren’t really there). It can affect people of any age from children to the elderly.

What causes Charles Bonnet syndrome?

The exact cause of Charles Bonnet syndrome remain unknown but it is thought to occur due to a reduced visual signals from the eye to the brain, leading to the brain paradoxically firing more signals (hyperactivity) which results in visual hallucinations (almost like filling in the gaps).

It is important to note that Charles Bonnet syndrome is not caused by dementia or a mental health condition

What are the symptoms of Charles Bonnet syndrome?

The visual hallucinations are different in each person and can range from simple shapes like lines and dots, coloured blobs and geometrical patterns, or more complex images involving faces (sometimes distorted or gargoyle-like), people (young or old), animals, objects or whole vivid scenes.

The hallucinations can last anything from a few minutes to several hours and appear without warning. They can occur several times a day or a couple times a week/month and can last for a short period or many years.

It is important to remember that Charles Bonnet syndrome hallucinations only involve sight. If other senses (hearing, smelling, tasting or touching) are involved as well then it is not considered to be Charles Bonner syndrome. Patients with Charles Bonnet syndrome are also aware that the visual hallucinations experienced are not real compared to hallucinations from other causes

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