I thoroughly enjoyed the first day of the Optometry Tomorrow 2022 conference, held in a Covid-free and flood-free Telford last weekend. Look out for a review soon.

Of the wide range of topics covered in the various lecture and workshop tracks, I was inevitably drawn to an excellent session on Charles Bonnett Syndrome (CBS), a topic that has long fascinated me. I do not remember the condition being mentioned at all during my undergraduate and pre-reg days, despite visual hallucinations associated with sight loss having first been described way back in 1760 by the man himself. The condition was only cited by psychiatrists as a syndrome in the 1980s and the first time I heard it being discussed in the eye world was in a lecture from fellow fan of the Fall, Dr Frank Eperjesi, in the 1990s. Surprisingly, for a condition with such significant impact, very few patients ever mention experiencing CBS and published prevalence figures vary wildly, from rare to extremely common.

In the clinic where I work, there are two conditions that many patients experience but tend not to let you know unless you ask. CBS is one, and dry eye is the other. As my clinic tends to see elderly people with sight loss, this might be expected. However, it has convinced me that the prevalence of CBS is very high indeed, but not all admit to it. This was indeed confirmed by Professor Mariya Moosajee in her lecture, who also took the opportunity of promoting her website www.gene.vision, an excellent free resource packed with information about inherited eye conditions.

Most useful of all, a patient with CBS, Nina Chesworth, described her traumatic near-constant hallucinations to the audience and will be doing the same at Glastonbury this week to raise awareness of CBS and the support charity Esme’s Umbrella. Well worth knowing about.

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