Charles Bonnet Syndrome: Can It Be Treated?

by Dec 6, 2022

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is a rare condition in which vision loss or poor vision leads to hallucinations in the area of vision loss. This can be quite frightening for the individual as well as any caretakers. These hallucinations are usually not threatening or menacing and merely seem to exist within the rest of the world that is seen. Charles Bonnet Syndrome is not a mental condition nor does it have any associated neurological implications. Rather, it is the brain’s way of compensating for the vision that is missing. Treatment is not required for the condition, however, if the hallucinations are bothersome there are methods of minimizing and reducing the hallucinations.

What Can Cause Vision Loss that Leads to Charles Bonnet Syndrome?

To develop Charles Bonnet Syndrome, there must be a significant amount of vision loss within the visual field of both eyes. However, it is rarely seen in an individual without any functional vision in either eye.

Conditions that can create a scenario for developing Charles Bonnet Syndrome include age-related macular degeneration, severe glaucoma, and bilateral optic nerve atrophy. Other conditions may result in a situation in which Charles Bonnet Syndrome could develop, but these are the most common conditions.

Macular degeneration is the most typical condition that can lead to Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Macular degeneration is a bilateral condition that affects the central vision without impacting the peripheral vision.

In these cases, the hallucinations from Charles Bonnet Syndrome will be in the center of the vision where the vision loss is the most profound.

Types of Hallucinations in Charles Bonnet Syndrome

While the hallucinations experienced in Charles Bonnet Syndrome may be anything for each individual, the most common types of images are usually brightly colored, and moving, and may include animals, people, or fantasy creatures.

These hallucinations are typically easily determined to be imaginary or fake, but they may have very lifelike or realistic appearances as well.

How to Get Rid of Hallucinations

In an active bout of hallucinations in Charles Bonnet Syndrome, there are techniques that can be used to rid the hallucinations from the vision.

Anything which can direct focus toward the area of the vision which contains the hallucinations has the potential to cause the hallucinations to dissipate.

Looking directly at the hallucinations, walking towards the hallucinations, talking to the hallucinations, or changing the lighting around the hallucinations can cause the hallucinations to disappear.

If any of these methods work, it is known that the hallucinations are caused by the loss of vision in that area.

Treatments for Charles Bonnet Syndrome

The treatment options for Charles Bonnet Syndrome are fairly limited and mostly consist of maintaining the quality of life including correcting vision as best as possible, counseling the patient that Charles Bonnet Syndrome hallucinations are not indicative of any mental illness or neurological pathology, and working to create an environment in which the hallucinations are lessened.

For an individual with Charles Bonnet Syndrome, additional neurological workups may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and rule out any neurological causes.


Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Amy Quan, Patricia Jones, and Joseph Goldberg provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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