Charles Bonnet’s syndrome: not only a condition of the elderly

  • Heike M. Elflein
  • M. Rudy
  • K. Lorenz
  • K. A. Ponto
  • A. Scheurich
  • S. Pitz
Low Vision

Abstract

Purpose

To investigate whether the experience of visual hallucinations, namely Charles Bonnet’s syndrome, in psychologically healthy people is a phenomenon solely of elderly, visually impaired people.

Methods

In a prospective controlled study, four groups of subjects (total 324) were formed: age ≤40 years, no visual impairment; age ≤40 years, visually impaired; age >40 years, no visual impairment; age >40 years, visually impaired. Visual impairment was defined as best-corrected visual acuity ≤0.3 (Snellen) in the better-seeing eye. Each group consisted of 81 subjects. Visual hallucinations were defined as complex visual perceptions. After ruling out psychiatric causes for visual hallucinations or medication related to the experience of visual hallucinations, affected subjects underwent a detailed interview about their visual hallucinations.

Results

The prevalence of visual hallucinations among young subjects with visual impairment was 4.9 %; among the elderly visually impaired subjects, it was 6.2 %. The difference was not statistically significant. No subject without visual impairment experienced visual hallucinations.

Conclusions

Charles Bonnet’s syndrome is not limited to elderly people suffering from visual impairment, though there tends to be a higher prevalence of visual hallucinations in this group.

Keywords

Charles Bonnet’s syndrome Visual hallucinations Visual impairment 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heike M. Elflein
    • 1
  • M. Rudy
    • 1
  • K. Lorenz
    • 1
  • K. A. Ponto
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Scheurich
    • 3
  • S. Pitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyUniversity Medical CenterMainzGermany
  2. 2.Center for Thrombosis and Hemostasis (CTH)University Medical CenterMainzGermany
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical CenterMainzGermany

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