WHEN we think of, or even experience hallucinations, most of us assume this as a sign of a mental health condition. What many do not consider is that for those living with sight loss, hallucinations can form part of their daily lives due to the condition known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome.

Presently this condition is not widely known or considered, despite there being more than 100,000 cases of the syndrome in the UK, with up to half of all people with macular degeneration, a gradual loss of central vision, experiencing Charles Bonnet hallucinations at some time.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome tends to begin in the weeks and months following a significant deterioration in our vision; the main cause of the syndrome is how our brain reacts to this sight loss. When our level of vision deteriorates, the brain doesn’t receive the same amount of information from our eyes so the brain fills in these gaps by releasing new fantasy pictures, patterns or old pictures that it has previously stored, consequently causing hallucinations.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome can be very worrying for all affected, including close friends, family and carers; the lack of recognition surrounding this syndrome can lead to heightened anxieties and even misdiagnosis.

Sight Advice South Lakes is offering a free Charles Bonnet Syndrome information session on Monday, July 8, at 2pm at Kendal Unitarian Church. This will be an ideal opportunity to find out more about the syndrome and the support available; anyone with an interest to find out more is welcome to attend. Please contact Sight Advice on 01539-769055 to book your place.