There are many eye conditions that affect people in the UK.
Some people with sight loss will experience visual hallucinations; these are known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome.
Charles Bonnet was Swiss philosopher who first described this condition in 1760 when he noticed that his grandfather, who was almost blind, saw patterns, figures, birds and buildings which were not there.
Although the condition was described almost 250 years ago, it is still largely unknown by ordinary doctors and nurses: many GP’s and Ophthalmologists are not aware of the syndrome.This is partly because of a lack of knowledge about the syndrome and partly because people experiencing it don’t talk about their problems from fear of being thought of as mentally ill.
Charles Bonnet syndrome affects people with serious sight loss and usually only people who have lost their sight later in life but can affect people of any age, usually appearing after a period of worsening sight. If you experience this, you may see elaborate forms such as geometrical grids and lattices or animals, people in old fashioned dress, gargoyles or gardens. They can last for a few minutes or a few hours. They are very real to the individual.
Charles Bonnet Syndrome can be distressing, but the hallucinations are usually not permanent. Many people experience hallucinations for a year to eighteen months before they become a lot less frequent or stop.
Esme’s Umbrella is a Campaign Group working towards a greater awareness of Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Click here for more information.