What Are the Symptoms of Charles Bonnet Syndrome?

October 18, 2009

My father has Charles Bonnet Syndrome but lately he was in the hospital  and he was telling some wild stories. I have researched CBS and I understand it but when my father was telling these stories,they were very real to him. We have talked about this (my father and I) several times and he knows that the visions are not real.

Example: he told me he was adopting a little boy and wanted to know how we felt about it, he was not himself a around a week. Every day had a story and they were very real to him. I don’t remember reading anything about CBS causing these symptoms. Would this be signs of something else?




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6 Responses to “What Are the Symptoms of Charles Bonnet Syndrome?”

  • Joan

    I just started having the visual hallucinations. I have diabetic retinopathy with a history of 5 vitrectomies for bleeding. Thought I was going crazy, but realize now they are visual. I see a little girl, geometric shapes and fat, caterpillar like worms. The all move and are in color. After reading my exact situations and experiences on these websites, I am not crazy, but my vision is greatly impaired with tons of scar tissue so I only have tunnel vision left, but glad to have that. I can bring on the visuals at will by staring and they go away with rapid eye movement. Glad to read they may not last forever, but I need to make friends with them for now. Can’t see myself talking to them though.

  • ari weitzner

    i am not aware of anyone who specializes in this syndrome. all your mother really needs is reassurance that this is a well-known syndrome, and she needs to simply accept the hallucinations and not be frightened. any ophthalmologist or neurologist can sit and discuss with her

  • Lonzettte

    My Mother has macular degeneration (dry). She has had this for over 30 years. She has Charlie Bonnett Syndrome as well. She was even asked to speak at UNLV some years back about her experience with this. She shares with me her hallucinations and I try my best to be understanding. But it is difficult, especially when she questions me and wants to have lengthy conversations with me about what she sees and her conversations with people she sees. She has been checked for mental illness and was determined to be in perfect mind. Her visions started small…seeing letters in the field of vision that is not there…now she sees people. Does anyone know of someone who speciallizes in this area? Anywhere? Some who can help her and I understand this syndrome better? I’m beginning to feel frustrated….My mother lives with me now.

  • My understanding is that Charles Bonnet syndrome is the condition whereby your father gets visual hallucinations that he would recognise as unreal, so it does sound as if he does have it. It’s a condition typically of someone with advanced macular degeneration.

    But the delusional stories are definitely “something else” – it would not be possible to say exactly what without a proper psychological assessment. Questions that occur to me as a mere lay person include does he drink a lot? (I mean alcohol). Does he have major gaps in his memory, especially recent memory? Is he maybe someone who’s always told tall stories to give people a laugh? Whatever’s going on, you can’t regrettably get a diagnosis over the Internet, so I hope your father can get a thorough medical and / or psychological assessment.

  • Dr. Ari Weitzner

    agree- the hallucinations are purely visual, as far as i know. other than that, one has to consider dementia or other organic brain disorder. the hallucinations are very real- the patient will swear he saw them

  • To me, Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) occurs in individuals that have lost significant vision (legally blind or worse). They may experience visual hallucinations (seeing images in fine detail), but are of normal mental status.

    How was your father diagnosed? I read your comment and wonder if your father has some dementia, but would suggest evaluation with his primary care doctor.

    Look forward to hearing from you,

    Randall V. Wong, M.D.
    Retina Specialist