Charles Bonnet syndrome: a review

Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2009 May;20(3):219-22. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0b013e328329b643.


Purpose of review: The aging of the population and the resultant increase in the number of patients with low vision due to age-related macular degeneration and other ocular diseases necessitate an increase in awareness of the Charles Bonnet syndrome among ophthalmic care providers.

Recent findings: The clinical features of Charles Bonnet syndrome have been described by several different authors as formed visual hallucinations due to disturbances of the visual system in patients who are otherwise mentally normal. Theories regarding the causes underlying the Charles Bonnet syndrome are multifaceted and offer insight into the function of the visual system. The incidence of the Charles Bonnet syndrome varies among different population groups, but is underdiagnosed in most settings. Recent case reports of treatment options involve varied pharmacologic interventions, but visual improvement and patient reassurance remain the mainstays of treatment.

Summary: As Charles Bonnet syndrome becomes more prevalent as the population ages, all physicians who care for low vision or elderly patients should be aware of its clinical characteristics and treatment options. Understanding of this syndrome by caregivers will lead to decreased anxiety among the patients who experience it. Further exploration of treatment options will be necessary in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hallucinations / complications*
  • Humans
  • Syndrome
  • Vision Disorders / complications*