Charles Bonnet Syndrome
Hallucinations, Visions and Vision Impairment Among Elderly
When a seemingly physically and mentally healthy person begins having hallucinations, it can become unnerving for caregivers, and sometimes the patient. However, hallucinations – basically seeing things that aren't there -- aren't always a symptom of illness or dementia.
Some people with serious visual impairments, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, or other damage to the optic nerve, can experience vivid "phantom visions." This is called "Charles Bonnet Syndrome," after the 18th century Swiss scientist who first described these phantom visions, or hallucinations, when he began to lose his own vision.
These "visions" are often described as being similar to the pain that amputees feel in a missing limb. The brain interprets signals from the remaining nerve endings as “feeling” in the missing part. Similarly, if the cells in the retina no longer receive visual images, the vision system may begin creating and sending its own images to the brain.(MORE)
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