CBS can happen as a result of sight loss. This happens because your brain can't make clear images from your eyes, so it replaces them with visions that aren't really there. These visions vary from person to person. Some have visions of people in historic clothing, things moving around in front of them, patterns, wallpaper that they know is wrong.
CBS is not widely known about. It can often lead to worry and panic in the person and their loved ones. People suffering with this condition are often too worried to tell others about their visions, as it makes them question their mental health. To the people with CBS the visions are very real. To be told it isn't real or that they are just seeing things can be very frustrating.
The visions of CBS just come and go as they please, no rhyme or reason, and no two people have the same.
Mood and stress can make these visions more frequent, and more cluttered. They don't always see just one thing at one time. There are often two or three things at the same time. This is something they learn to live with, this is the world they live in.
The visions seem as real as anything a fully sighted person would see. It may be strange, but it's there. It doesn't matter whether others can see it or not, because they can and it's a part of their life. Even many doctors, opticians and opthalmologists are not very aware of this condition, therefore do not even consider it as a diagnosis.
At Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind we are working very hard to spread the word of Charles Bonnet and make people more aware that this condition exists. Since learning about CBS I have become very passionate about raising awareness for it. Together we can all help to spread the word.
Charles Bonnet Syndrome supportA note from SRSB
SRSB has a dedicated support group for people with Charles Bonnet Syndrome. If you have experienced visions as part of your sight loss and would like to talk to someone about it, you can contact SRSB on 0114 272 2757.
There is also a national campaign group called Esme's Umbrella whose aim is work towards a greater awareness of Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Their website contains lots of useful information.