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Charles Bonnet Syndrome: Visual Hallucinations

Visual Hallucinations

Visual hallucinations or otherwise known as Charles Bonnet syndrome are hallucinations that happen as a result of sight loss and usually are associated with macular degeneration. Visual hallucinations consist of seeing something that is not really there and usually present as patterns or shapes, but can also be more complex like seeing objects, people or landscapes. The hallucinations can be very vivid and sometimes even frightening. It does not mean that there is a mental health problem but it is the brain’s “response” to the sight loss; that means your brain is trying to fill in the gap of the information that is missing from your eyes when there is sight loss.

What to do if you are experiencing visual hallucinations ?

Do not panic!

Try the following to make your hallucinations disappear

  • shut your eyes or look away from the images
  • look directly into the images you are seeing, or
  • move your eyes rapidly, or
  • blink rapidly, or
  • put the TV or the radio on or
  • stand up and move into a different room with caution
  • turn the lights on
  • try eye movement exercises such as look from left to right without moving your head about once every second for 15-30 seconds, followed by a short break of a few seconds and repeat the sequence 4-5 times.

It can help talking to your ophthalmologist, family, friends or carers about your visual hallucinations and how they make you feel, particularly if your hallucinations become upsetting.