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Seeing without believing

How often do you ask your visually impaired patients the following question: “Do you ever see things you know aren’t real?”

This is an important question that is often overlooked. Patients rarely volunteer information about hallucinating for fear of people thinking they are crazy or psychotic. If the patient is symptomatic, it is important to provide information about Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), which is characterized by complex, vivid visual hallucinations experienced by people with vision loss. A key factor in making the diagnosis is that the patient knows the visual images are not real – they are hallucinations, not delusions.

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Tiffany Chan
Dr. Tiffany L. Chan provides primary optometric care with a specialty in low vision rehabilitation. Dr. Chan received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Davis and optometric degree from the University of California Berkeley, School of Optometry. During her internships at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) New Mexico Health Care System in Albuquerque, NM and VAMC Miami Medical Center in Miami, FL she managed geriatric eye care with heavy ocular disease emphasis. She also completed an internship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, FL in the pediatric and strabismus division. After graduating from optometry school, she completed her residency at the Northport VAMC in New York in low vision rehabilitation, primary care and vision therapy. Dr. Chan then completed the Lions Vision Rehabilitation Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. She then joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine where she was an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology in Low Vision Rehabilitation at Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.