Depending on who you ask, blindness can refer to “legal blindness” which is used for people who suffer from poor eyesight, or it can refer to “total blindness,” referring to those who can’t see at all. Regardless of which category one falls under, there have been numerous cases of blind people who claimed to have “seen” things. Whether it’s visual hallucinations or facial expressions, here are five amazing things that the blind can “see.”
1. Facial Expressions
Emotional contagion is a phenomenon experienced by humans whereby someone reacts to the facial expression or behavior of another person. Blind people do this too. Despite not being able actually see you, their brains are able to pick up on your facial expression and react accordingly. This was proven to be true in a study by researcher Marco Tamietto at Tilburg University in the Netherlands where the participants of the study all reacted immediately to images of people either smiling or frowning.
At only 29-years-old, Milena Channing thought she had lost her sight forever after suffering a devastating stroke. As she adjusted to her new life, Milena realized that she could see water moving as she bathed her daughter. Over time, she was able to perceive steam leaving her cup of coffee, rain falling, and even her daughter’s swinging ponytail, despite not being able to actually see the objects itself, just the movement. Turns out that she was experiencing “Riddoch’s phenomenon,” which causes blind people to see only moving objects. Milena later bought a rocking chair since it improved her “vision” whenever she was in motion.
3. Visual Hallucinations
Charles Bonnet syndrome is a condition that is fairly common among people who recently lost their eyesight. It can continue for up to a year and a half before fading away. Sufferers of this condition are very much aware of the fact that the things they’re “seeing” aren’t real at all, and are simply just hallucinations. One possible reason for this is that CBS is the brain’s attempt at making up for the loss of vision. According to a 69-year-old man who suffered from CBS for six months after he lost his eyesight, he saw a wide range of things including abnormal shapes, people he knew and even animals, such as a spider that tried to hurt him.
After analyzing the dreams of 50 people, half of whom were blind, researchers concluded that the eleven people who were born blind experienced nightmares 25% of the time. This was drastically higher than the 14% of people who went blind during their lifetimes. They had nightmares 7% of the time, while sighted people were only 6%. However, the dreams were never related to seeing but the other four senses. Instead, it was tied to awkward social situations and terrible accidents related to their disability.
5. Everyone Else Including Themselves (During Near Death Experiences)
Blind people are also able to have near-death experiences and when they do, it’s a bit different than that of sighted people. Strangely enough, some blind people report temporarily regaining their eyesight after leaving their body. Take for instance 22-year-old Vicki Umipeg who has been blind since infancy. She reported seeing herself and the doctor on the operating table after a car accident left her with a fractured skull. She also mentioned going through a tunnel that led her to a group of beings made of light.
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