Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) Is An Interesting Syndrome That Can Affect Elderly

Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) is a condition that causes visual hallucinations. People with CBS see things that are not actually there, such as patterns, shapes, or people. These hallucinations can be very realistic and often occur in well-lit environments. It is relatively rare, affecting an estimated 1-5% of the population over 55. The exact cause of CBS is unknown, but it is thought to be related to changes in brain function that occur with age. Treatment for CBS typically involves the management of underlying conditions and providing support and reassurance to patients. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to help reduce the frequency or severity of hallucinations.

What Is Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS)

Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) is a condition that affects some people who have lost their sight. People with CBS see vivid, complex, non-realistic images. The images can be any size and may change from moment to moment.
Charles Bonnet Syndrome is not a mental illness and does not damage eyesight. It is thought that CBS occurs when the brain tries to compensate for the loss of vision by creating its own images.

charles bonnet syndrome
charles bonnet syndrome (cbs) is an interesting syndrome that can affect elderly 2

History Of Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS)

Charles Bonnet Syndrome was first described by a Swiss naturalist and physician named Charles Bonnet in 1760. He noted that his elderly grandfather, who was losing his vision, was seeing complex visual hallucinations. Since then, there have been many case reports and studies of CBS, but it is still not well-known or understood. It is estimated to affect up to one in ten people over the age of 55 who are losing their vision. The most common hallucinations are of people, animals, or patterns. CBS usually occurs in people with good mental health who know that the hallucinations are not real. 

What Causes It?

Although the exact cause of Charles Bonnet Syndrome is unknown, it is believed to be caused by changes in the brain that occur in response to the loss of visual input. This can happen when the eye is not receiving enough light or when the retina is damaged. In some cases, CBS may also be caused by certain medications or medical conditions. However, it is essential to note that CBS is not a sign of mental illness and does not cause distress or harm to the individual. Instead, it is simply a side effect of blindness or vision loss.

What Are The Symptoms?

People with Charles Bonnet Syndrome typically have lucid visual hallucinations that are detailed and complex. The images may be of people, animals, objects, or scenes. These hallucinations can be triggered by various stimuli, such as looking at a blank wall or closing one’s eyes. People with CBS usually realize that their hallucinations are not real. The condition does not cause any long-term mental or physical health problems. However, it can be a distressing experience for some people. Symptoms of CBS typically go away on their own after a few months. If they persist, there are treatments that can help.

How Does It Affect You?

For many people with Charles Bonnet Syndrome, the hallucinations are temporary and do not cause any long-term distress. However, some people may find the hallucinations to be disruptive and upsetting. If you are experiencing visual hallucinations, it is essential to talk to your doctor so that they can rule out any other potential causes. 

What Are The Treatments?

Treatment options for Charles Bonnet Syndrome include medication, therapy, and support groups. Medication can help to reduce the frequency and severity of hallucinations. Therapy can help people to understand and cope with their condition. Support groups provide a space for people with CBS to share their experiences and support one another. By working with a team of professionals, people with CBS can find ways to manage their condition and improve their quality of life.

How To Live With It?

People with Charles Bonnet Syndrome typically know that the things they see aren’t real. The hallucinations don’t last long and usually go away on their own after a few minutes. There are some things you can do to live with CBS: 

  • Tell your family and friends about CBS, so they understand what’s happening if you start seeing things. 
  • Keep a journal of your experiences with CBS. This can help you track your symptoms and patterns. 
  • Join a support group for people with CBS. This can help you feel less alone and allow you to share your experiences with others who understand what you’re going through. 


Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) can be a very interesting condition to experience, and it is essential to consult with a doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms. Although rare, CBS can occur in anyone at any age, so it is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Last Updated on October 25, 2022 by Lucas Berg


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