CBS Defined

A vision-impaired
person of sound mind experiences
phantom images (visions) in
their visual field.

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It's one thing for medical and health care professionals to describe the Charles Bonnet syndrome experience. It's quite another for those actually having to live with this condition on a daily basis. This area is devoted to the personal accounts of individuals who are living with Charles Bonnet syndrome.

It is also open to the perspectives of significant others (eg. carer, spouse, family member, friend) who are affected by a loved one's CBS journey. 

The principal aim is to share personal accounts of CBS for the benefit of others. For it is in sharing that we slowly begin to break down the wall of silence that has plagued the condition for far too long. The Foundation welcomes your stories: please send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Personal experiences of CBS


Mr L:   'Everywhere I look I see brickwork. When I look at my wife, her face is embedded in the bricks.'


Mr B:   'I often see big cats like tigers and panthers...sometimes inside the house but also outdoors. The images used to be scary for me - especially as they would appear out of nowhere - but now I can at least account for them.'


Ms T:      'When I first mentioned my CBS to my doctor, he said I should keep such thoughts to myself. It didn't help me at all. Made me withdraw more. I'd been seeing intense swirls of colour-like fireworks and more recently have begun to see these sort of spinning pyramids and cubes. They don't bother me too much now that I know what is causing it.'


Ms A:   'My name is Audrey, I am 86 years old, legally blind and I experience CBS and have done so for several years. As my eyesight deteriorated about 15 years ago, I noticed what I thought were specs of dust floating across my vision. My general practitioner (GP) said the condition was called floaters and flashes. Over time these floaters and flashes became other things such as miniature chessboards and wedding rings. These images were at first black and white, but as my sight worsened the images appeared in technicolour. On telling my GP he said, "Aren't you lucky!" I was rather shocked by his flippant retort.'

'Eventually I was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). Sometime after this I was told about a talk being given on ARMD and on attending, I learned about the Charles Bonnet Syndrome. My mind was put at rest that I had a real condition and that I should not be afraid. Nowadays, having had hallucinations such as a huge snake and a Chinese lady in full Chinese costume, both of which disappeared when I blinked, I now know when I see things that aren't really there they are all part of the syndrome.'

'These days I have a carer who helps me, and like myself, spreads the word about CBS wherever we go and whenever the opportunity arises. We have informed a lot of people, including doctors, who otherwise did not know of this condition. Nowadays, knowing about and experiencing CBS I have learned to live with it and not be afraid.'


Ms W:   'My walls are covered in these purple flowers. Even when I go outside, the lawns and pathways are a sea of these same purple flowers.'


Mr L:   'My brain has a mind of its own. The Road Runner made me aware of this about three years ago. That pesky cartoon character who I never watched and never liked, popped up in my field of view on the right side. He wasn’t actually there. He didn’t exist, but my brain, reacting to my failing sight, may have thought I could do with a spot of entertainment with a stationary cartoon character. Why the Road Runner? Who knows? The only times I saw him was when I walked through the room where my kids were watching cartoons on TV. I always hoped that Wiley E. Coyote would catch him and… well, do whatever it was he wanted to do.

When he first appeared, my eyesight was beginning to fail. Since then, as my vision further declined, I began seeing images of people and things and as my years added up, my sight was subtracted from my faculties and my constant visitors multiplied, dividing my attention.

I am now regularly visited day and night by militia style men and women in lime green uniforms, sometimes armed, sometimes with white horses, and also by caricatures of ugly pirate heads. All sorts of people have joined me in the lounge room, eating dinner, at the shopping centre and even while trying to get to sleep. Sometimes there’s a group standing at the side of the TV, as if they’re watching what I can’t see. A small girl occasionally stands near my knee and looks up at me. When I smile and look down at her, she disappears. The worst of these visitors were the green-faced demons with sharp teeth.

If I didn’t know better, I could think I was going crazy. But what I now know is the cause of all these strange ‘hallucinations’ is the Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). Charles Bonnet lived in Geneva over 250 years ago. He first became alerted to this syndrome that now bears his name, when his vision-impaired grandfather began seeing things that weren’t there. Now, two and a half centuries later, we do not know with any certainty, what is causing these strange visions. CBS usually affects people who become blind or vision-impaired late in life. I fit that category. I began losing my vision several years ago in my 70s. Now, that I am 81, and blind, these strangers have proliferated. They walk past me in a group, then look at me as if wondering who I am. They stand by the roadside even walking in front of our car and disappear as the car drives on. In most cases these uninvited visitors are a pleasant enough lot, smiling, often appearing interested in something that’s outside my field of vision. It is not always people. Sometimes a wall of pink bricks with blue grouting appears in my lounge room but luckily it disappears when I walk towards it.

So far, I have not found any way to get rid of them. But I know they are not a danger to me but where they come from, and who they are, is a mystery to me. It seems my brain is trying to make up for the lack of visible stimuli that it has received over the past eighty years. Is it now making up for having nothing to process, nothing in my vision? So far nobody recognisable has appeared in front of me except once, when my late mother’s face was looking sideways, and when I recognised her, she turned and looked at me and then disappeared.

There are probably more people with Charles Bonnet Syndrome than have been counted because some could be embarrassed to discuss it with anyone, even a doctor, fearing that they may be going insane or suffering from dementia. Strange as it seems, it doesn’t stop me doing whatever I want to do. I am left with eyes that can’t see what is around me, and a brain that sees what isn’t there. I don’t know whether to say I’m suffering from CBS or being entertained by it.'

Ms K: 

In shadows' realm, where visions intertwine,
A curious condition, Charles Bonnet's design.
Within the mind's eye, a vivid display,
A symphony of specters, in vibrant array.
Oh, Charles Bonnet, a poet of perception,
Whose eyes behold a different dimension.
A realm of hallucinations, both strange and surreal,
Where the boundaries of reality gently repeal.
A world unseen by others, a private show,
Where phantom figures dance, come and go.
Majestic landscapes, painted with ethereal hue,
Delightful apparitions, ever-changing and new.
Yet, bittersweet is this gift, a double-edged blade,
For the mind's eye can both enchant and persuade.
Illusions and phantoms, they whisper and deceive,
As reality and fantasy begin to interweave.
The afflicted soul, a captive of this sight,
Navigates a labyrinth, alternating between light.
The beauty and terror, intertwined in their gaze,
A dance of wonder and anguish, through endless days.
But let us not forget, amidst this poetic haze,
The strength of those who face this perplexing maze.
For Charles Bonnet's syndrome, a challenge profound,
Yet resilience and courage in their hearts can be found.
Through support and understanding, let us stand,
Extend a tender hand and lend a helping hand.
For in unity and empathy, we shall find,
A world where Charles Bonnet's visions align.
So let us embrace the kaleidoscope of the mind,
For in the tapestry of perception, wonders we shall find.
And may the light of compassion forever shine,
On those touched by Charles Bonnet's design.

Ms M:    'My name is Maria. I am 66 years old and in 1989 I first began to have sight problems. I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, which led me, by now, to absolute blindness for over ten years. 

On August 20, 2019 I thought I had undergone a miracle because I saw so many people around me... adults and children around me. I asked my husband who they were and he told me there was no one there. In the following days, trees, flowers and panoramic views were added and I thought I was crazy. 

So I first asked the primary care physician and the ophthalmologist who suggested I go to the neuropsychiatrist but between negative results from the CT and MRI scans I did not have a precise diagnosis as the doctors did not know how to explain what was causing my visions. In the meantime, through a search on the internet relating to hallucinations in the blind, I gathered information on CBS and through reading the testimonies of others living with the syndrome I could find many of my own symptoms.'


Mr I:    'I am having 2 regular hallucinations. The first started when I saw three houses with red roofs across what appeared to be an English village green. The next iteration was a single house on the corner of a street and over surrounding houses again had red roofs and seemed to be suddenly built on brick. At this particular house on a corner somehow recall the first house I had lived in immediately after my first marriage.

Subsequently this has evolved into seemingly a large estate of these similar houses. Access to them on the left as I faced them is up a slight incline and then a gentle bend and then a straight road right across the front to hold of these houses and then a similar curve at the end that seems to go down a hill. This is a very pleasant vision and seems to be stable and peaceful and I don't think I ever see any people or peoples on the road. However, there have occasionally been a crowd of people walking down the inroad and seemingly mostly middle-aged and dressed for cool weather periods. I have even found that one or two of them remind me of specific people from the past.

As for these houses there may be 20 or 30 along this particular road. Yet there are obviously more setbacks through side streets the standard design itself one building containing two homes with one common central wall. Each home has a double garage and the front door and two other rooms on the ground level it also has three rooms on the second upstairs level.

The second vision: it's entirely different and it seems I am looking up a busy road, which absolutely has to be in London where I was born. I am 90 and moved to the States nearly 50 years ago (1974). The scenery is generally the same and on the left is a newsagent with the lovely different newspaper headlines on the walls indicating that they are available inside and these seemed to be from both England and other countries (eg. Le Monde). Looking down the street I would say I seem to see some sort of tower in the distance which I cannot identify and also a fork in the road. Once I first saw this I was sure it was England but was puzzled that there were no double Decker red buses which is typical of London streets. Almost immediately after that the street became full of these buses… and in addition, pedestrians were on the sidewalk and on the road in some cases. And there were also bicycles and other traffic on the road as well as the buses.

The scenery is almost always bathed in sunlight but I think I can persuade it to turn into night in which case lights start to appear in the buses and in the shops etcetera. Sometimes there are children but one day I said I would try and see if I could see my Australian shepherd dog Molly who actually died quite a few years ago. And almost instantly I saw her on her own weaving her way through the crowds and while I was glad to see her it then became depressing as I thought maybe she was looking for me.

In both cases above, the vision can vary in size and if it's on a wall or in mid-air it looks as though I'm basically looking through a window or a porthole. If the vision is say across the room some distance away from me, it will appear in an opening of about three feet wide and two feet high. However, if I take my eyes away from that and look down at something close say to my knee, I could see the same vision but miniaturized and with a much smaller opening. Now I have known some of the people walking along the streets sometimes come out my vision and 3 dimensionally appeared, in one case walking through a room where I was attending a meeting and of course I know this is a hallucination so it does not disturb me. In another instance, these people appear walking down the road and somebody is driving me and we seem to be driving through them. Nobody seems to be concerned about that either.

I have on occasions been sitting outside on a patio in front of the house and listening to some pleasant music when suddenly some of these people appeared and they were dancing to the music swing stepping left right to town.' 


Ms D:    'In mid-January 2020, I was stopping for lunch with my husband. It is typically his manner to get out of the car and walk around to get me as I am somewhat handicapped. But on this particular day I got out of the car before him. I didn't see a concrete piece that was under the car and tripped over it falling forward onto concrete and watching my left eye literally explode. This led to an ambulance being called and major surgery followed. After several weeks, I had a visit with the surgeon and was told it was unlikely I would ever see again. As this was my second blind eye (first one lost to diabetic retinopathy six years before), this eye had been my hope of seeing again.'  

'I had to see the doctor every two weeks and he did ultrasounds of my eye, which were very painful. Once I told the doctor about things that I was seeing at night. Funny strange faces, scary people, furniture moving, and a dining room table full of people (when only my husband and I were present). His response, after rolling his eyes, was you're imagining that; that can't be happening.'

'After he left the room, one of his assistants whispered to me, you're having Charles Bonnet syndrome. The doctor doesn't acknowledge it, but look it up and she wrote it down on a piece of paper. We saw the doctor a bit later and I thanked him for having such a great assistant who was able to put a name to the visions I had been having. The doctor asked what she told me it was. I told him that she had indicated it was CBS. He indicated there was no such thing and that it was all a figment of my imagination.' 

'My husband started doing research about CBS. He read articles and descriptions and when we came upon the CBS Foundation, we were able to obtain a great deal of information and read stories about people that shared my experience. I started to realize that I was not abnormal but I did have the syndrome different than most. For example, I may be completely immersed in the hallucination with a 360 degree view. If I'm in a room I will see the entire room. If I'm at home in my simple modern cottage, it may change into a Victorian house. In the evenings we might be in a full opera house with all of our household furnishings in the house. If my husband grabs me to take me to dinner we may walk a few rows over and down to where our dining room table is sitting. And of course my bed at night is in the middle of some rows of people. Now mind you the people don't move or speak or get annoyed with us for laying down in front of them but it's very unnerving to have this experience.'

'We watch the news at night and although it's on a TV, I can't always see what's on the screen but rather graphics and cartoons which I've heard is quite common with Charles Bonnet syndrome. The most unnerving of all is returning home from an errand. I never return to my house. I may return to a funeral home, gas station, an auto repair shop or a factory holding tiers and tiers of cartons that are surrounding all of our household furnishings. This hallucination stays with me until interrupted by sleep. I never know how to get to where I'm going and yet my husband will say, "It's the same place it's always been, dear".'

'Finally I should mention that I have had certain hallucinations that actually were pleasant. I had visions of people, no longer living, that I miss including my father, an aunt and a good friend. This was very nice.'


Ms S:

'In June of 2018, I was diagnosed with a primary psychotic illness. This illness comes with its fair share of visual hallucinations. During my second psychotic episode, I was chasing rats on the hospital floor. While I have no recollection of that time, my doctor informed me that I believed it to be real. Fast forward to January 30th 2020, when I had a hemorrhagic stroke whilst I was in a coma. This stroke damaged mainly my occipital lobe. This damage resulted in hemianopic vision loss which led me to have Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS).'

'I have learned how to distinguish between these two types of visual hallucinations. With CBS, my visions are much more detailed and do not take a life form. They are non-responsive to the environment around me, and often take the shape of patterns or distorted figures. With my psychotic hallucinations, however, the first thing that comes to mind when I see them is that they are real and impose an imminent danger to myself. With CBS, they serve mostly as a distraction; however, some images can be frightening. The main difference I have come to understand between the two is my emotional response to the hallucinations. The primary emotion I feel during my psychotic hallucination is fear. With CBS, it's bothersome. With CBS it’s life interrupted, with psychosis it’s life fractured. Life with a visual impairment has its own set of challenges, but it is "a life worth living".'


Ms B:    'My name is Bernadette and I have CBS. But I didn't always know that. In fact, it was only after two years of having lived with the condition that I could finally put a name to it. For the two years before then, I had been through Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. A most troublesome time.'         

'First there was the wee green image and the beautiful 'out of this world colours'. This was the Heaven part. I then experienced faces, everywhere only faces with no body. The faces were Caucasian, in their forties and more males than females. Sitting outside on my first floor unit one day, I observed the single faces everywhere: in the frangipani tree, on buildings, roofs, on the washing line. I saw them at night too, eyes open or closed did not matter, they were there. I also saw different images, this is the crazy part, as if the previous scenario was not crazy either. I would observe an old man and a much younger woman, so happy to see each other, and they would kiss, by cheek to cheek. Then the old man would turn into the young woman and vice versa. Different faces... the old woman cheek to cheek with the much younger man. This was the Hell part.'

'I saw cartoon figures moving along my bedroom wall. I saw beautiful coloured images that turned into faces. That was bloody frightening as I was not expecting that at all. I even had a different encounter once from my usual experiences when I awoke in the darkness and an old man came in with a basin to wash my feet. Then I saw a movie super 8 machine with sections pertaining to the second world war. In particular, I saw two soldiers in a trench wearing circular metal hats. I saw two old men sleeping on the right side of my bedroom floor. Large as life in the next vision in the same area, I saw a brown horse sleeping followed by two fawn coloured Labrador dogs also sleeping. That was in October 2020 and I was in purgatory then. My purgatory state was the not knowing and looking for answers. I knew that I was not going through any mental disorder but I could not discuss this with anyone, except my twin sister Margaret, who listened to me. When seeing my eye surgeon, the closest I could say to him about my phantom images [hallucinations] was that I thought I had a brain tumour. Though I have a good GP I could not discuss this with her nor my optometrist as I felt that they would be judgmental and send me to a psychiatrist/ psychiatric facility.' 

'My redemption came on Dec 31, 2020 when I googled 'rare eye conditions' and Charles Bonnet syndrome came in at number five. My awakening was connecting with others in the CBS community.' 


Ms V:

It is isolating not being able to communicate what you are experiencing…

There were many years where I had no explanation for what was wrong. Believing the symptoms to be somatic my GP referred me to a psychiatrist. It was genuinely good to have to talk to someone although I started to believe maybe my pain was unreal. Felt both relief and concern when my neurologist found an aneurysm. It was pressing into where the optic nerves cross over. It’s size, shape, and placement made it inoperable. Asking if the aneurysm was causing the visions the answer would be: “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t”.

So isolating not being able to communicate your experiences. Just to explain, after a long busy day, my friends were in the backyard with a fresh poured glass of white. Going to join them things start to get weird. One friend’s skin is a fluorescent blue and the other sitting opposite a bright bright green. Only the skin, not the clothes, nor hair, or anything surrounding: so striking. You would think that that would be the most remarkable thing happening. In hindsight what was most remarkable is that I said nothing. My previous sharing of CBS visions had taught me not to speak up. Instead, I went home. This retreating was learnt from repeated comments: “Are you on drugs?”, “Think it is psychological”, and even, “There is nothing wrong: that is not happening”.

Although no longer explaining to friends and family, I never gave up with my doctors. After years of attempts, I photoshopped a set of images: black holes from space in the sidewalk, buildings turning into trucks driving down the road, text at bus stops becoming a scrambled mess, and city skyscrapers all curved and bent. These images expressed to the doctors with clarity the extent of the visions. A newly approved stent meant surgery was now possible and a gradual transition began. Nerves heal slowly. My visual problems had always been referred to as palinopsia. Charles Bonnet Syndrome was never discussed BUT the last time I visited my neuro-ophthalmic doctor I asked him about CBS and if that applied: he agreed. The complex visions slowly left, and only simple symptoms remain.

I really consider myself lucky: my aneurysm treated before rupture. Important to express my gratitude for the amazing medical care received. In addition, some of the pseudos [ie. CBS visions] I had were incredibly beautiful, breathtakingly so. Being able to communicate what you are experiencing – whether frightening or uplifting – can make a difficult situation better.


Dr. A-G:  'A few weeks ago, as I was being driven home, I began to see alongside the roadside, piles of timber logs alternating with grass-like huts, their roofs pointing to the sky. As soon as one set disappeared, another set appeared. This continued until the car stopped.'

'The following day, I was sitting in the clinic of my GP’s surgery with a number of acupuncture needles in my head. I was sitting quite still but wherever my eyes looked, I saw pieces of gingham-like cloth, white background with red and blue lines running parallel with each other across it. When the acupuncture session was over and I left the clinic, the ‘apparitions’ stopped.'

'A couple of days later, as I was having dinner with my daughter, a face appeared in front of me: a very suntanned face with a very high forehead, a large pair of spectacles posed crookedly across the bridge of the nose, and longish wavy grey hair. Wherever I looked, the face appeared. This lasted all the time I was sitting at the table. Over the following days, I kept seeing small children in striped pink and white pyjamas, nearly always from the back and wriggling their little bodies. This same image appeared repeatedly.'


Ms H:

'I was born with unilateral congenital cataract and lost sight in the affected eye. In my late teenage years, I was diagnosed with suspected glaucoma in both eyes. I began using anti-glaucoma medications. Then I started to experience visions… often flashes but also other things like text in various languages. I was sent to ER when I started to see the visions and was diagnosed with unspecified psychotic disorder. When I was given this diagnosis, I felt like there’s something seriously wrong with me. So I made an appointment with my eye doctor and he said my eyes look okay. So I went to see psychiatrists - several of them. I have met five psychiatrists so far and none of them was familiar with CBS. Two of them said that my visions were not part of schizophrenia but they could not explain what was actually happening to me. One of them suggested to me to just live with it. The rest of the doctors prescribed antipsychotics for the visions but none of them have worked.'

'I’m currently on a high dose of quetiapine nightly which is also used as a sleep aid. Since I see the visions even if I close my eyes, I have difficulty in sleeping and quetiapine helps me to sleep. But there’s a side effect of the sleep aid: sometimes I see the visions when I wake up in the morning, which is called hypnagogic hallucination.'

'Nearly 3 years after the visions had begun, I still did not know what was truly happening to me. Since every doctor had told me that they don’t think I have schizophrenia, I decided to investigate further. I looked up information about hallucinations and I found a book that looked really interesting. It was called Hallucinations by Dr Oliver Sacks. When I read the book, I thought that I may have CBS so I changed my mind not to rely on antipsychotics because I thought that it’s natural for me to see the visions. A little while later I connected with the online CBS community. It made me feel more confident that my mind was ok and I was not mentally ill at all.'

'I had also wondered about my glaucoma eye drops. I had already had a problem with one brand of eye drops causing me eye pain. Then Scot from the CBS Foundation informed me that some anti-glaucoma eye drops can trigger visions similar to CBS. So I notified my eye doctor and I now see the visions much less than before.'

'I look back over the past 2 to 3 years and all the doctors who assessed me. Since I saw visions only, they felt it didn’t meet the criteria for a psychiatric condition so they said I had ‘unspecified psychosis’. I believe that if the treating team at ER (or all the psychiatrists after that), had been familiar with CBS, then it could have saved me a lot of time and worry.'


Ms B:    'I'm now 96 and live with macular degeneration. I have been 'seeing things' for nearly 20 years. Once in the hospital ward, I saw on the bare white wall, all green foliage with deer walking along... then the deer vanished. Later, I saw faces of women and they transformed into a grid of drawn faces in pen and ink.'

'In recent times, I have seen pages of text on my living room wall. Once it had the heading, 'Palm Trees'. Below was the following sentence: "The mature leaves are green but the new ones are yellow or greenish-yellow." Then I noticed that this same sentence was being repeated all the way down the page.' 

'I often have the experience of being in the garden and then when I enter my home, those same garden images follow me into the room.'  


Mr M:     'After lunch, when I sit in the living room, I often see miniature people moving from the right to the left. They wear strange outfits like the umpa-lumpas from the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory film. They seem to be busily going about their business. They never say anything but sometimes they look straight at me which can be a bit scary.'


Ms V:      'I initially saw faces, gargoyle type faces, animals, birds, feathers, wings, flowers, plants, grasses, shapes, and grids in a Picasso-like abstract picture. Another way to describe it, is a patterned net curtain hanging over everything I look at, which is more pronounced when I stare at something, ie tv/computer or I am in a room with plain walls. My CBS is a shimmering embossed picture with a grey background, I don't see in colour. It is with me every minute of the day until I fall asleep. After nearly a year the pictures I see are smaller, so there are more of them but they are Lilliputian in size, I see a lot less faces and animals now too, it is much more jumbled/abstract, but it still shimmers and is still in a form of an embossed ghostly picture.'


Ms P:     'I have macular degeneration and about 6 months ago, I started to see these super colourful shapes and figures. Fortunately, I was told about CBS by my eye doctor so I then began to enjoy them. Sometimes I see these climbing vines or plants which are such a rich green. I love seeing the strong colours but sometimes they are really, really colourful like when you put up the colour control on the TV to maximum.'


Mr L:      'When I was in my early 70s I was diagnosed with glaucoma which has proceeded to get slowly worse over the years. I took eye drops 3 times a day and then my eye specialist tried laser surgery on each eye but that didn't seem to improve anything. Finally I had a trabeculectomy in each eye that cancelled the need for eye drops but left me with peripheral blindness and loss of depth perception. I also now had photophobia (aversion to bright light) and as a result I wear dark glasses outside and in any indoor places with bright overhead lights.'

'Sometime in 2013, I started seeing unusual visual objects between me and the subject I was looking at. It was varying from a mesh of usually red colour or a beaded screen that seemed to move down vertically (a sort of moving coloured beaded curtain). In the car as a passenger, I saw the road as a tunnel of covered bare tree branches; 3 storey buildings on the side where there are only single storey homes or piles of telephone poles stacked horizontally.'  

'What the hell was happening to me? I wondered. Then I discovered I had CBS. So I had visual hallucinations that don't exist in reality. And I couldn't get rid of them: they were everywhere in my sight. I went through all the emotions: despair, anger, frustration, irritation and finally, acceptance. There appeared to be no cure. I had a brain scan that was normal. I've just got to live with it and 'adapt to the situation'. 

'Later in 2015 I discovered I had a 90% blockage of my LAD (left artery ascending). After I later began experiencing pain in the left shoulder, the doctor told me it was time to implant stents and was put on medication to prevent blood clots for the rest of my life. Within one week, my CBS disappeared and has not returned. The doctor and I believe that my blood now being thinner than normal has increased the blood flow to my brain, together with more oxygen and the combination is a positive result. Would this work for others? Who's to know but that's an interesting question.'


Mr I:      'This is a story of a strange Charles Bonnet illusion I had driving down to Lilydale from Healesville (ie. outer metropolitan Melbourne). It started as we were driving past Saint Hubert's winery. A powder blue fence sprung up on the right hand side of the car. Now, I have many CBS illusions and the most common place for me to have them is while being driven in a vehicle. By the time we reach the end of the winery, there was another fence on the left-hand side of the car and I was driving down a hallway. There were four panel doorways every four or five metres on both sides of this hallway.' 

'After the initial shock that comes with these illusions, I decided to just sit back and enjoy the drive. The fourth doorway along the hallway was open and I could smell potpourri and I saw in this room a shelf with stuffed toys on it. We got to the Coldstream traffic lights and the illusion sadly came to an end. We were on our way to a medical appointment in Lilydale and I sat down in the waiting room and struck up a conversation with a lady who happened to be an aromatherapist. To my surprise this woman mentioned CBS. I told her about my most recent experience and she was amazed when I came to the part about smelling potpourri... that my sense of smell operated during a CBS illusion. It was while talking with the aromatherapist that I realised I had just driven down my grandmother's hallway and the potpourri smell was part of her sewing room. In that room my grandmother would make stuffed toys: dolls, golliwogs, animals and balls for the sick children in hospital. She would donate them to the Children's Hospital in Melbourne. My grandfather would regularly walk from Hawthorn into the Children's Hospital with a wheelbarrow load of these toys.'

'My grandmother would often take me into her sewing room and play games with me with all the bits and pieces of the stuffed toys. She would put a dog's head on a golliwog, cat's tail on a doll, an elephant's head on a giraffe... all manner of things. (And all these decades later I was having very similar type CBS illusions.) One of my more memorable CBS episodes involves a bull with a greyhound's head on it. From the CBS experience of driving down my grandmother's hallway, I have found the answer to this other CBS episode that had concerned me for a long time. In telling this story, I hope it will encourage a lot of other people to talk of such images that flit through our brains at unexpected times and enjoy them. I do now.' 


Mr P:      'I became aware of something spherical forming in the top left quadrant of my blindness…the sphere quickly focused into the round black straight haired head of an oriental girl with a ponytail at each side. The child was wearing a yellow one piece baby-grow type outfit with some black geometric design throughout, similar to a small diamond shaped polka-dot pattern. I was looking down at her on my left side where she was just standing for a while then her face changed to a very grotesque menacing one... the mouth was large and open with long white pointed teeth similar to a Monkfish mouth.'


Ms B:      'I am 92 and live with macular degeneration. One day upon returning to my aged care facility, as I was walking down the hall towards my room, I noticed something strange. It looked as if someone had been very busy while I was away painting colours and lines to the many framed pictures that lined the hallway. I asked a friend to accompany me down the hall to show him. He couldn't see anything. I laughingly said,"I don't think they like men."  I then saw another friend and said, "Something is really worrying me and I don't know if I should tell you." I then blurted out, "I have been seeing things all week. I am seeing things that are not there." I was so relieved when she knew exactly what I was talking about. She explained it to me like it was a sort of phantom limb for deteriorating eyesight. I have been a nurse so I knew what this meant.'

'In that first week I saw a big bunch of grapes on the dinner table. I knew that they were not there but I would experiment by reaching out and trying to touch them. Needless to say, my hand went right through them... What I often see are clouds of prolific 'blossoms'. They are intensely coloured- mainly pinks but some lilacs and mauves. They are not on any branch or vine but just appear - clusters of them - clouds of little pretty circles. They are not flowers - but flower-like - the size of a 20 cent coin. They appear suddenly and disappear just as suddenly... they gather in groups or bunches of different sizes, but never singly. There is always a lovely atmosphere accompanying them - welcoming and beneficent.'

'I also see many - 40 to 50 - horses with shabby riders. With so much movement going on it's hard to describe details. It's dusty and after they ride up, they mill about in a chaotic way. When I told the nurse, she took urine samples and I was put on antibiotics. I guess the assumption was I was delirious. I find it interesting that not one professional specialising in Aged Care had even heard of these symptoms or of this syndrome. My friend sticky-taped a page of CBS information and this has been quite valuable when I have tried to explain to staff what I was experiencing.'