How Blind People Actually See the World


How do blind people see the world? Do blind people see dreams? Most people imagine that what the blind see is complete blackness. But, it’s not that “black-and-white”, so to say. There are different degrees and causes of blindness that affect what blind people can see.

What’s functional blindness?
When a lot of us think of blindness, we only imagine total blindness. But there is something called functional blindness as well. It means different things in different countries. In the US, normal vision is 20/20, and the higher the second number, the worse the vision. A person with 20/200 vision is considered to have functional blindness, which means they can see at 20 feet what a person with normal eyesight can see at 200 feet. It could also mean the person has a visual field of 20 degrees or less, whereas normal is between 60 and 100 degrees. There are different types of functional blindness with varying levels of severity.

Blind from birth 0:25
People who lost their eyesight 1:10
Legally blind 2:07
Able to perceive light 3:17
Tunnel vision 3:33
Do blind people see images in their dreams? 4:04
Using other senses 5:21
Perceiving light non-visually 6:14

– People who are blind from birth obviously have never had the ability to see. And it’s not really our eyes that actually see information but the brain that processes it. So if the brain receives no signals from the eyes to process, a person can see nothing.
– Becoming totally blind, that is, losing light perception altogether, is extremely rare. It happens to those who have lost the connection between the eyes and the brain. This can happen when the brain or optic nerve is damaged or when the eyes are removed.
– A legally blind person can see people and large objects but they’re out of focus. They can perceive colors or even see things in focus but only at a certain distance, perhaps only as far as right in front of their face. In some cases, everything they see is blurry and hazy.
– Keeping light perception doesn’t help blind people see clearly, but it does help them distinguish between light and dark, day and night. Some of them can also tell where the light’s coming from.
– People with tunnel vision look at the world kind of like through a narrow tube, hence the name. They might see things pretty clearly, but only within a field of vision less than 10 degrees.
– A person who once could see and then lost their vision may see dreams like sighted people do, with bright vivid images. Legally blind people can also see images while they’re sleeping.
– Another popular question concerning people with impairment or loss of vision is if their other senses get stronger. Researchers believe it’s true. Blind people remember how different objects smell and often use hearing and touch to find their way around.
– And it’s possible that totally blind people have their own way of perceiving light. In 1923 Harvard graduate student Clyde Keeler conducted some research on blind mice. Although their eyes lacked certain parts necessary for vision, they still followed day-night cycles.

If you know anything else on this topic, share your knowledge in the comments below.

Music: Opus One – Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons license (

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