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Exacerbation of visual hallucinations in Charles Bonnet syndrome due to the social implications of COVID-19

Jones, L; Ditzel-Finn, L; Potts, J; Moosajee, M; (2021) Exacerbation of visual hallucinations in Charles Bonnet syndrome due to the social implications of COVID-19. BMJ Open Ophthalmology , 6 (1) , Article e000670. 10.1136/bmjophth-2020-000670. Green open access

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Abstract

Objective: Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) occurs secondary to sight loss, characterised by spontaneous visual hallucinations. Symptom manifestation can be influenced by social isolation. This research aims to evaluate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on patients with CBS. / Methods and analysis: A prospective cross-sectional survey of 45 individuals with active CBS. Open and closed ended questions were used to measure patient-reported features of hallucinatory experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown and perceived episode triggers. Analysis comprised of descriptive statistics, analysis of variance and associations, supplemented with qualitative descriptions. / Results: The survey was operational for 31 days during the COVID-19 pandemic (June–July 2020). The mean (±SD) age of respondents was 69.3 (±18) years and the majority (42.2%) had macular disease. Loneliness during the lockdown was associated with changes in the nature of visual hallucinations (p=0.04). Individuals experiencing greater loneliness were, on average, older than those with no changes to their feelings of loneliness (mean age 73.3±17 vs 60.2±19 years; p=0.03). Despite experiencing greater feelings of loneliness (67%), most individuals (60%) had not accessed support services for this reason. / Conclusions: Around half of respondents in this survey experienced exacerbation of visual hallucinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may partly be explained by loneliness and/or environmental triggers. We provide suggestions to promote effective patient self-management of symptoms.

Type: Article
Title: Exacerbation of visual hallucinations in Charles Bonnet syndrome due to the social implications of COVID-19
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjophth-2020-000670
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjophth-2020-000670
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Ophthalmology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122358
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