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Phantom vision after eye removal: prevalence, features and related risk factors
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  • Published on:
    Response to Martel et al. on visual hallucinations in sight loss
    • Lee Jones, Research Fellow University College London
    • Other Contributors:
      • Judith Potts, Founder of Esme's Umbrella
      • Dominic ffytche, Professor of Visual Psychiatry
      • Mariya Moosajee, Professor of Molecular Ophthalmology

    Martel et al. report the prevalence, features and risk factors of visual hallucinations following eye removal (1). The findings indicate that visual hallucinations may be a significant and prevalent association of eye amputation, occurring in around one-third of cases. Throughout the paper, visual hallucinations are referred to as phantom visions, and categorised under the broad catchment of the phantom eye syndrome that includes pain and tactile sensations as well as visual hallucinations. Although the authors speculate phantom visions could be considered a subtype of Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) they are reluctant to refer to them as CBS, perhaps because of the longstanding debate as to whether CBS should be used to refer to a specific type of visual hallucination or a specific underlying cause (2,3). Where CBS is used to refer to a specific hallucination type, it is typically reserved for complex hallucinations and excludes the simple, ‘elementary’ hallucinations described as the most common experiences following enucleation. The consequence is that a range of terms have evolved to describe symptoms that have the same cause, adding confusion to the literature and hindering research and extensive efforts to raise awareness and establish appropriate patient management pathways for people with visual hallucinations (4-6).

    It is our opinion that both the simple and complex visual hallucinations described in the study should be referred to as Charles Bonnet syndrome....

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.