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Charles Bonnet syndrome to be featured on Coronation Street

15 February 2021
Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS)

Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) hallucinations feature on this week’s Coronation Street, coinciding with a new study on the increase of symptoms of the condition during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This week Jonny, an established character in Coronation Street, is beginning to hallucinate due to his sight loss from optic neuritis. CBS hallucinations are caused when the brain attempts to fill in gaps in visual information with invented images or patterns. The visions vary from person to person and range from simple lights or patterns to complex images, which are often distressing.

​A study published today in BMJ Open Ophthalmology has shown the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on those already experiencing vivid hallucinations as a result of Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS). The study of 45 patients from Moorfields Eye Hospital between June and July 2020 reported increases in symptoms in over half of participants. Over the last 12 months, the number of people calling RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service to report CBS has increased - with sharp peaks in calls corresponding with coronavirus restrictions.

CBS is not curable but there are techinques to manage the condition as well as support for people. The study showed that, where possible, increasing social interactions and engaging in physical exercise could help to reduce hallucinations.

​The study also demonstrates that an increase in awareness of CBS risk factors among healthcare professionals is vital to more effective diagnosis. This leads to better strategies to promote patients being able to manage their condition.

The study was supported by the NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre, The Thomas Pocklington Trust and The Welcome Trust.

​Esme’s Umbrella, the UK’s CBS campaign has been working tirelessly to raise awarness of the condition since it was founded by Judith Potts in 2015. She says “Sadly it is often overlooked as a mental health condition or otherwise and is therefore not managed effectively. I am pleased that our voice is now being heard and the horror of the conditions is being recognised not only on national TV but also in this latest study.

My dream is anyone experiencing CBS will not be afraid to go to their doctor and when they do, they will be diagnosed quickly. Covid-19 has added to the situation in a negative way as highlighted in the study”.

Professor Mariya Moosajee, consultant ophthalmologist ​at Moorfields Eye Hospital, and Moorfields Private Eye Hospital, said “At Moorfields we are working hard to better understand CBS and how it can be managed. This includes a study to learn how common CBS is in children across the UK. We are hoping to start a study into deciphering the overall time period affected by visual hallucinations, as this will help us to provide a more accurate prognosis for patients to guide them on how long to expect them to occur. We would welcome further research on CBS to increase our understanding and would also encourage clinicians to ask their patients about CBS symptoms regularly.

For more information about Charles Bonnet syndrome, visit Moorfields Private - Charles Bonnet syndrome

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