Although you’ve likely never heard of Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), once you learn about it, you’ll never forget it. That’s because the disease, which affects those with visual impairments, causes sufferers to see vivid visions of horror. And while researchers are now working on a treatment, one million people in the UK alone are still dealing with it. On an almost daily basis.
Estimated one million visually impaired people in UK are thought to experience bizarre ultra-lifelike hallucinations - including spiders crawling from books and Victorian families appearing in crowds. #CBS @esmesumbrella @RNIB @Vision_Fdn @Gallowaysblind @Henshaws https://t.co/WwU6ZWND4q— Dr Amit Patel (@BlindDad_Uk) August 10, 2020
According to a recent report from The Independent, researchers at the University of Oxford are now carrying out a major study to determine what causes CBS. The study will be crucial for understanding the disease, which causes some sufferers to see terrorizing hallucinations.
Dr. Amit Patel, who suffers from CBS, told The Independent that he often sees a girl reminiscent of Samara from The Ring. Yes, Samara is the well girl.
“I can be working, walking down the street, with the kids, and she’ll suddenly be there,” Patel said. The former paramedic noted the hallucination is so vivid he can see the details on the girl’s dress. And blood smeared on her face.
“It is not a mental health issue, but [rather a result of] sight loss,” Judith Potts says in the video above. Potts is the founder of Esme’s Umbrella, which is a campaign aimed at raising awareness of CBS. Potts adds that as sight diminishes, the messages from a person’s retinas to the visual cortex slow, and then stop. But while this function ceases, the brain still continues to interpret visual information, even in its absence.
One CBS expert told The Independent that the fact the visions sufferers experience are often disturbing is beyond current scientific understanding. People with the disease often see, for example, spiders crawling out of books, zombies in their homes, or faceless people sitting on their sofas.
Moving forward, the Oxford study aims to destigmatize CBS by informing the public that it isn’t a mental disorder. In regards to applicable findings, however, the timeframe is sketchy at best. The Independent notes that early results should come in a year, and a complete study in 18 months, but beyond that, there’s no word of a real treatment.
“There are at least one million people in the UK who live in a world of hallucinations with CBS,” Potts says in the video above. “We also know that CBS is exacerbated by isolation, by stress, and by fever, all of which we are experiencing at the moment,” she adds.
Hear an excerpt from my interview with @OTEurope on how #Covid19 has impacted my #genetic eye disease clinics @Moorfields. Patients with #CBS are experiencing increased visual hallucinations that are more sinister & fear-inducing due to social isolation @esmesumbrella pic.twitter.com/s9ZdY8l5it— Prof Mariya Moosajee (@MariyaMoosajee) August 10, 2020
What do you think about Charles Bonnet Syndrome and its horrific effects? Are you going to try to educate people about CBS now? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Feature image: Toho