Q:

What is Charles Bonnet syndrome?

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Quick Answer

Charles Bonnet syndrome occurs in people with vision loss causing them to experience intense and recurring visual hallucinations, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. Older adults with vision loss are more likely to develop this syndrome.

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Full Answer

These hallucinations only affect vision and do not involve the other senses such as hearing and smell, notes the American Foundation for the Blind. People with this disorder are usually mentally stable and aware that what they are seeing is not real. A misfire in the brain is the cause of Charles Bonnet syndrome. The brain of people with this disorder interprets visual imagery without any input.

People with this disorder may benefit from joining a support group to learn how to cope with the syndrome and share their experiences with others who understand, states the American Foundation for the Blind. Some techniques that may help manage the illusions are closing and opening the eyes, moving the eyes rapidly either back and forth or up and down and turning on a light. Walking away from the hallucination or looking for a distraction may also be beneficial. Doctors diagnose Charles Bonnet syndrome when there are no additional neurological issues to explain the hallucinations. Those who have other symptoms such as memory loss or weakness may have a more serious disorder.

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