By  Stephanie LiangosMaster in Applied Neuroscience student.


This syndrome is characterized by the presence of complex hallucinations that are seen by
people who have damage along their visual pathway, making them visually impaired.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome (henceforth CBS), also known previously as “phantom vision”, is the way in which the brain deals with the adjustment of the vision impaired, similarly to how phantom limbs occur within a population who have lost a limb. The brain deals with “loss” via an experience in which it allows the individual to slowly adjust to loss via the release of hallucinations as a compensatory function

CBS is often seen within the geriatric population and seen across different medical disciplines
including optometry, ophthalmology, psychiatry and neurology. Charles Bonnet Syndrome was considered rare before 1990, as there were only a few case histories in medical literature (Sacks, 2012). However, CBS is more common than what was previously reported in
literature, and although CBS is still largely unrecognized, even by medical doctors, research suggests that most cases are overlooked or misdiagnosed. A study conducted by Robert Tunisse et al. (1996), who studied six hundred elderly patients in Holland, reported that almost 15% of them had indeed CBS.

Whilst research shows us that the prevalence of CBS is much higher than medical practitioners realize, simultaneously, those who suffer with CBS are afraid of being stigmatized as mentally unstable, and thus many cases go under reported (Kester, 2009).

However, creating CBS awareness is of utmost importance more than ever, as we have an aging population and the geriatric population increases. This will also affect the number of those who have acquired vision loss and subsequently cases of those affected by CBS.

A study by Gilmour et al. (2009), indicated that only 9% of patients with CBS sought medical advice, and half of them received an explanation on what CBS was. In another study by Cox and Fftyche (2008) observed in an Australian sample of 492 patients in which 47% were not given an explanation on what CBS was, and subsequently had a negative experience from seeking medical advice on the matter. In this study, one third of the medical professionals were uncertain or unaware entirely about CBS. Thus, these indicators are disappointing and as health care providers and researchers, it is important that we recognize and understand this condition in order for these patients to be properly managed and cared for without being misdiagnosed or misinformed.

Keywords: Charles Bonnet Syndrome, Neuroscience, optometry, ophthalmology, psychiatry, neurology,

Download the full Research Work: Stephanie Liangos (2021). Neurogenesis or the state of continuing creation of ourselves. SAERA


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