Charles Bonnet Syndrome

The Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) is a condition that causes loss of eyesight. People who lose their sight usually have hallucinations. The patients with Charles Bonnet Syndrome usually have lost their eyesight from conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic-related diseases. This condition can occur at any age but is more common in older people or seniors. Learn to recognize some the symptoms of Charles Bonnet syndrome and be knowledgable of its history so you can seek treatment and support.

Charles Bonnet syndrome was named after a Swiss philosopher and writer who lived about 200 years ago. His grandfather lost his vision and saw patterns, people and buildings that were not there—Charles Bonnet wrote about him. When a person loses his vision, the brain reacts to the loss of images. When the brain stops receiving signals, it fills in the void with its own images, so the person with Charles Bonnet syndrome will have visual hallucinations.

There are two type of visual hallucinations from this disorder. The first is repeat pattern hallucinations. There may be grids or repetitive patterns of bright colors. It may appear if tree roots are growing on everything you see. These hallucinations often last several minutes and come frequently after loss of eyesight. Complex hallucinations are another form of CBS hallucinations about people, animals, places or landscapes that are familiar to you or seem so. You may see a garden with flowers or a scene with a waterfall. You may see groups of people dressed in strange costumes from a different time period. These hallucinations do not usually include familiar people or events you have lived through. Most times the vision are not threatening or unpleasant. Remember these hallucinations are the brain's reaction to losing your sight.

There is no treatment for this Charles Bonnet syndrome. The best treatment is to know the symptoms come from losing your sight. Talking to friends and family or a trained professional can help you cope with the disease. There are some medications that have been prescribed, which are very powerful. Your eye doctor or general health care provider will prescribe medication if it can help you. You can cope by keeping occupied listening to TV or radio. Some people find that moving or looking at the image makes the hallucinations fade. Talking to someone while you have hallucinations may help you to get through it. Some people have found specific eye exercises to help.

Get treatment for the loss of vision. Talking to a social worker or counselor can help with the visual hallucinations. Get involved in some activities with people and do not stay home alone all the time. These tips will help you cope better with Charles Bonnet  syndrome.

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