Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Blind Can See?

While researching, I came across an intriguing article about an elderly woman who, after suffering from years of blindness, began seeing vivid, colorful images.  She was confused as to why she was suddenly seeing things in great detail, and was surprised to find out that she was actually having hallucinations. She was diagnosed with a condition called Charles Bonnet syndrome.  The idea of a blind person suddenly having temporary visions was absolutely astounding to me and I felt the need to know more. 
                Charles Bonnet Syndrome is described as “visual hallucinations of the blind.”  People with the disorder are not actually seeing anything but are instead having hallucinations of a very vivid, colorful, and detailed nature.  The visions are anything from people and animals to inanimate objects and can last anywhere from minutes to hours. Many people are able to control the visions by shutting their eyes or quickly moving their eyes from object to object within the vision.  Charles Bonnet Syndrome is very often accompanied by Diabetes and can occur more often when the individual’s blood sugar is not under control.  Currently, the cause of Charles Bonnet Syndrome is unknown and there is no treatment for the disorder.
                I have many unanswered questions after reading this article. First, is Charles Bonnet Syndrome even related to a brain disorder or does it only occur in individuals with diabetes? I read several articles about the condition and all seemed to have some connection to diabetes, but as the cause is unknown it is hard to pinpoint if diabetes is the underlying cause.  If it is not caused by diabetes, is it similar to schizophrenia and other types of conditions that cause delusions? I feel like there is a lot of research to be done before this syndrome is fully understood, but until then, it is interesting to think that the blind are able to see.    

http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/22/2/247-s.e28

2 comments:

  1. From what I know of it, Charles Bonnet is considered to be different from psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia because in Charles Bonnet the individuals are aware that they are seeing hallucinations, they are not delusional. I guess maybe more similar to migraine aura visual hallucinations - when you see them, you know that ou are hallucinating, you don't actually think there is anything there.
    some interesting info here: http://www.rnib.org.uk/eyehealth/eyeconditions/conditionsac/Pages/charles_bonnet.aspx
    and also here http://www.bmj.com/content/328/7455/1552.full

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  2. " it is interesting to think that the blind are able to see"

    What an idiotic comment. That's like saying that people dreaming (with their eyes closed) "are able to see" because they have visual experiences.

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