Charles Bonnet’s syndrome: not only a condition of the elderly
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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.
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.
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.
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.
KeywordsCharles Bonnet’s syndrome Visual hallucinations Visual impairment
This manuscript contains parts of the thesis of Marlene Rudy.
Compliance with ethical standards
KA Ponto is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF 01EO1003).
No funding was received for this research.
Conflict of interest
All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge, or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants or their legal guardians included in the study.
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