Visual hallucinations in Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight / Thomas Pocklington Trust Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Dr Greg Elder
  • Institute: The University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Region: North East
  • Start date: February 2018
  • End Date: February 2019
  • Priority: Causes
  • Eye Category: Other

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is a condition where individuals who are visually impaired also experience complex visual hallucinations, which can be disruptive and unpleasant. Unfortunately, the exact cause of the visual hallucinations is currently unknown.

Dr Greg Elder and his team will be investigating and comparing the differences in brain activity between people with Charles Bonnet Syndrome with frequent visual hallucinations and people with eye disease who do not hallucinate. The team will investigate how overactive the visual parts of the brain are as the participants complete visual assessments, short attention and memory tests.

The visual hallucinations may be caused by problems with the flow of information from the eye to the visual part of the brain which causes the brain to over-compensate. Alternatively, how the brain focusses attention on what it sees might also influence visual hallucinations. Both of these possibilities will be examined.

The team hopes to develop a better understanding about why some people get hallucinations with eye disease and others don’t. The knowledge gained from this research could help the development of new treatments.