Unfortunately as we progress through life our visual quality can deteriorate to the point where spectacle and magnification devices provide only a small benefit. In addition among those with severe vision loss especially those conditions affecting our central vision -the macula- can be affected by Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). It is characterised by temporary but complex visual hallucinations. The hallucinations can be extremely vivid and realistic and range from simple repetitive patterns to detailed images of people,animals or buildings. The most common hallucination is of faces or cartoons and it is estimated about 30% of people who experience major vision loss suffer from hallucinations. The hallucinations also often fit into the persons surroundings.
Sufferers understand that the hallucinations are not real. The images are a consequence of loosing sight and the brain attempts to compensate for the gaps in the vision.
One of our roles as optometrists seeing partially sighted individuals on a daily basis is often counselling sufferers and their partners and caregivers