What do blind people see?

Discover reality about a world of minority

According to the general belief, blind people only see complete darkness. Surprisingly, it is not true, at least for a great majority. Of course, there are different kind of blindness, and only the rarest type lives in complete black. Damon Rose, who lost his eyesight as a child, explains that he does not see darkness at all, as he often tells people that the thing he misses the most is darkness itself.

Many scientists have proven that blind people can perceive light. In 1923, a scientist discovered that blind mices still reacted to light, but he wasn’t able to identify why that was. At that time, we already knew that the cones and the rods were responsible for vision, but we didn’t know any other types of photoreceptors.

It was only several years after that scientists decided to find the answer. There happens to be another cell that can receive light that is not situated on the retina, like the rods and the cone, but on the nerves that transmits signals from the rods and the cones to the brain. These cells are called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. The reason for which they are still useful for blind people is that they do not transfer the information to the image-processing area of our brain, but to several parts of the brain. This explains why light has so much influence on our body, like seasons, where people are happier during the summer, and for sleep, as the sleeping cycle goes with the sun.

Science has gone so far that some treatments can actually change what blind people can see. A perfect example is Cory Haas, a 9-year-old boy from New York. Before his treatment, he was legally blind, which means his eyesight was limited to fuzzy circles of light. He could not read or walk by himself. Now, he only wears glasses and he can do every activity of a little boy, including reading books.

-Rose,Damon. ­"Do blind people really experience complete darkness?". Ouch Blog. BBC news, 25 February 2015. Web. April 28 2015.

-Gerbis, Nicholas. “Can Blind People See Anything?”. Live science, 24 January 2012. Web. April 28 2015.

-Koerth-Baker, Maggie. “Science Question From a Toddler: What do blind people see?”. BoingBoing, 21 December 2009. Web. April 28 2015.

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