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When you're blind, what do you see?


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#1
jimmysonmycream

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This is a strange and funny question.. When you are blind what do you see?
See, my little sister asked me that or something, and she thought that all you see is black. I know this can't be true, you can't see the color black.. if that makes sence. She is only about 4 and she is right about everything :) so i agreed with her but that just got me thinking. It's somehow chilling to think of how it would be, to be blind or have no eyes. Sort of creepy, but only because it is common for us as humans to fear the unknown - like death, aliens existing.. etc.

So if you think of anything to respond to that.. lol, kind of random but.. whatever you think.

Edited by jimmysonmycream, 29 July 2008 - 06:27 AM.

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#2
dsenette

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i'd hope that someone who's blind or possibly has a blind relative would be able to answer this a lot better but...it depends on why the person is blind and HOW blind someone is..

some people who have completely lost their sight (i.e. weren't born blind but went completely blind later in life) say that they can still see colors and faces etc...since they know exactly what these things really look like....your brain is actually what gives you sight (as far as recognizing shapes etc..) your eyes just collect the light from the environment

some people who have been blind since birth report seeing what they would call shapes and colors etc...but without having a basis of comparison it's hard to say what's what.....

brings up a great question about human perception as a whole...how do i know that the orange you see is the same orange i see? or what i see as an apple isn't really a plum?


my grandparent's both grew up with french (cajun french) as their first language and learned english through school.....one day my brother decided to get all philosophical with my grandmother and asked her "when you think...is it in french or english?".....well she had no idea what he was talking about so i asked the more pertinant question "mais cherre...dat little voice in your head...does it speak french or english?" to which she replied "well both i guess....depends on what it's talking about"
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#3
jimmysonmycream

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If I knew someone blind I don't know if it would be rude to ask, but I probably wouldn't anyway. Somehow I think I've solved it in my head.. like I know what you mean, if they were blinded later in life after they knew what (colors, shapes) looked like etc.. And i've heard blind people also have dreams, where they can ..well see. Like a normal dream. I think dreams must be a very happy time for them.

The human perception thing got me thinking, is it possible for more colors to exist? I mean we have figured primary colors and all that which eventually make all the colors we know, but is it possible? Maybe thats the color people without eyes see -_~

Thats a cool story, I've never really thought about that. I suppose most people who know different languages just think it in what there talking at the time, and when thinking to themselves probably what they grew up learning the most. :) Haha, a very confusing topic.
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#4
dsenette

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human perception is impossible to quantify/qualify because it's unique to the perceiver..

Einstein's theory of relativity goes along with this...as you reach the speed of light...time for the traveler slows down relative to a fixed point or a point that you pass by on your journey...really heady stuff

there are other sets of theories that state that perception is the root of existence...such that if you do not perceive somethings existence then it truly doesn't exist at that point in time in your realm of space...which is great when someone sends you to find something in the pantry....it really wasn't there
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#5
jimmysonmycream

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:) Lol, kinda lost me there. Then again I never really was a Einstein master. Check that - a grade A physics student. :)
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#6
hfcg

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The human perception thing got me thinking, is it possible for more colors to exist? I mean we have figured primary colors and all that which eventually make all the colors we know, but is it possible? Maybe thats the color people without eyes see -_~

There are a lot of colors that we can not "see".
My great aunt lost her eyesight to cateracts (before she had surgury) but knew what color was, can some one who has never had sight know what you are talking about when you speak of color?
Light is the visable part of the radio wave spectrum, so what color is 101.9 on your fm dial?
(And how does a camera work anyways?)

Edited by hfcg, 29 July 2008 - 11:15 PM.

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#7
Troy

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I used to work with a guy who was legally blind, but he could see reasonably well. He had an accident when he was younger, so he could compare it to "not-blind" vision - he said it was like everything was white and blurry, but he made most everything out well enough.
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#8
CrazyIvan007

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I don't think those who are born blind even have a sense of what "seeing" is like. It would be like a human trying to know what it would be like to crawl on 8 legs which are naturally part of our body, or what it would be like to fly without the use of a machine. We just don't correlate it to ourselves, cause it isn't there, and never has been. What happens, is we focus our efforts on the things we can do. Sense touch, smells, sounds, vibrations, walking on two-legs, etc...

For those who are born blind, they don't recognize sight as something they are missing, except because people tell them it is something they don't have. But, they don't know what seeing is, so they can't exacty say what they see. It would all just be random images in your brain, based upon what you have touched, felt, heard. Imagine seeing sound in the mind's eye.

Do this...

Close your eyes...and think about the sound of someone knocking on a wood door 3 times. Do you actually hear that sound? No, you see the sound in your brain, you remember it. It is not measurable outside of your mind's eye. That is, I suppose, what being blind would be like.

Edited by CrazyIvan007, 22 August 2008 - 12:45 PM.

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#9
Octagonal

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This is a strange and funny question.. When you are blind what do you see?

If a person could initially see and then lost their sight for whatever reason, I believe that through their own memory of objects, colours, sound etc. and other senses, they would be able to visualise things in their mind reasonably well. In other words I believe that the person would be able to utilise their other senses to overcome the loss of sight. An example of this could be like a car around the corner speeding off into the distance spinning its tyres. Even though we may not be able to see the car we can visualise the event in our own minds through the use of our other senses.

If a person has never been able to see, then for the rest of us with a full sense of sight, this poses some interesting thoughts. I am unsure of my thoughts here because I have never had the experience of being blind.

I don't know whether a blind person may be able to visualise or not but they certainly compensate with their other senses as they can distinguish things by touch, sound etc. Their brain is be able to interpret these senses but maybe not in a pictorial fashion as the rest of us do. My example of this would be for each of us to explain certain things that we know what they are by their effects. Try explaining what the the wind is or if something is wet. We can't see it, only the effects of it. We use our other senses to help visualise these events. A blind person may not see them but then can distinguish everything using their other senses. So my gut feeling is that if a person has never been able to see then they may not be able to visualise the way we do in a pictorial form. However, I could be entirely wrong on this.
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#10
infinitus

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I guess this mostly centres around the degree of blindness and the point at which it was introduced.

Let's take for example this real-life case from one of the medical journals i chanced upon:

A boy was born blind due to an error in connection of his main nerve bundle in the retina. As a result he was incapable of seeing any images. When he was nine, a breakthrough allowed the doctors to repair his eyes. After the surgery was completed and once he was deemed fit enough to have his eye's bandages removed, he was tested. The doctors started with simple cards of colors and asked him whether he could see them. However his answer was no. The doctors were disappointed, however they soon came to realise, it was because his mind was incapable of processing the visual information that he's eyes had received.

When we are born, our eyes and brains start to "learn". What that the brain receives from the eye, it processes it and attaches memory tags to it. In other words our mind has started to perceive a set of images, associating what that we see according to memory. For example, when we see a hand for the first time, our minds will just recognise it as a set of colors in a certain manner. It is not until that we learn that that is a hand would we recognise it to be a hand. That said, once we have learned that that set of light is a hand, whenever we see another person's hand, we associate by memory, and thus recognise it to be a hand.

What that has happened for the young kid is that he's mind was still learning how to associate what information his eyes has sent to what that he knows. Due to the fact that he was born blind, he has absolutely nothing to relate to his mind that what the doctors was holding up was a card, or what that the color was.

Thus if we were truly blind, what we would see would be a void. If we were told that the void was colored by a color called "white", then any person born blind would say that all he can see around him is pure white. That is because his mind has been thought to associate the color of that void to be white.

Here's a little experiment for those who are myopic to give you a rough idea of what this might mean for you. Try looking around you workspace, remember as much as you can about it. Now remove your glasses and look at your coworkers' or if you are at home, another table. Notice how that even though the images appear indistinguishable, you are still able to accurately identify some of the items correctly?

An informal idea about this blindness can be doen through what is called the Post-It experiment.

When looking at your coworkers' or another table, did you identify any yellow square piece of paper attach to a vertical wall or object to be a post-it note?

Almost more than half the time, most people will. This is because we have a fixed image in our minds how a post-it note will look like.

So if a person were to become blind after living in this world for a good number of years, medically, he cannot see, but with stimulus like sounds and smell, his mind will still perceive, base on pre-associated notions of what his mind has associated this sounds and smells to, the object and source of the stimulus. Thus if he hears a plate being set down and smells tomato sauce, meatballs and cooked flour, he might associate spaghetti to it, if that was what he has always smelled whenever he ate spaghetti cooked in that manner.
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#11
TwerpBassMan

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Very interesting, thanks for that infinitus. I have thought about this situation in the past. I have thought of another one for everyone. When deaf people think, do they think in signs, or all images? My grandfather is fully deaf, so this has been on my mind for years. He was pushed off of a swing set by his brother at the age of two. When he hit the ground, he landed flat on his butt, the jar then popped his ear drums.

The reason I wonder mainly is that ninety percent of the time I think, it is like I am talking to myself while expelling no voice. Rarely do I ever think in images, and when I do, I've seen the image before. I have asked my mother before this question and she kind of took it the wrong way. She thought I was making fun of his condition in some way, which was the absolute farthest fetch from the truth. I was merely wondering, still am.

Another thing for you two think about. Some people are born both deaf and blind, how do they think, can they?

Jessie
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#12
shishomiru04

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I myself am legally blind, I cannot speak for someone who is completely blind, I am legally blind, color blind, have astigmatism and I am sensitive to sunlight......my visions is 20/200 if anyone knows what that means, my computer screen has to be within 10 inches of my face or I cannot see the text on this site, I can see much better with a lcd monter than a crt, I can't drive, etc....when I am too far away to see things like a normal person would, they become very blurry, when I go out and I have to cross the street, I can only see big blurry objects coming my way, I can't tell what color they are, I can't tell if it's a honda or a mercedes, depth perception is the only thing that is helping me when crossing the street, without that, then I'd have to have some sort of assistance.

there are different kinds of color blindness, there is monochrome, where you can see no color at all and then there is my kind where I cannot tell the difference between certain colors if they are simular in hue or shade, for example if I were to put a pale shade of purple or lavander next to grey, then I will not be able to tell the difference, or some shades of green and blue, or some shades of red and brown, colors usually have to be very bright and distinct in order for me to tell what they are., there are other types of color blindness as well.

because I am so sensitive to sunlight, I either have to a. wear sunglasses when I go out even if it is a cloudy day, or b. squint and blink like crazy in order to see anything, even with sunglasses I have to blink and squint often depending on how bright it is out, if I do not do this, all I can see is whiteout and it hurts my eyes.

astigmatism is when your eyes cannot focus properly, so that only means that I may have to stare at something for a while before I can see it and tell what it is.

It's not easy living your life like this, people look at me funny because my eyes always make me look like I am stoned out of my mind or glazed, they also look at me funny because I have to squint and blink allot in order to see, not only that I get disability, and I am actually one of the lucky ones because I collect partially from my father who was also disabled and I get more in my check than most people do when they start out, now you may be thinking, you get free money and you don't even work?, wish I could do that.....no you don't, because what I get a month, is barely enough to live off of, your average american makes at least 2 grand a month before taxes, the average gross income is at least 30 grand a year, wanna know how much I make a year?...$9,642, and most people on disability make less than that a year....what ticks me off is, there are people getting disability that don't deserve it, and the people that do want nothing more than to be able to live like a normal person does, I'd work my butt off to make at least 30 grand a year, but I can't because no one will hire me because I am prone to either injure myself, injure someone else, or screw something up...which is true, not oly that, once you start working, and make too much money, they cut you off...and then your only stuck with that lousy part time job at mcdonalds or walmart, until you get fired or laid off, then what are you going to do?.....so you see, getting a government check is not all what it is cracked up to be-oh did I mention you cannot get married while your on disability too?.....sorry for my ranting..
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#13
Abydos

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Interesting topic. And one not easily answered. As mentioned, who truly knows how different people percieve things. My own thoughts on how "true" blind people (those born blind) percieve things, stems from a place I worked at in my youth.

There was this girl, born blind, never had any form of eyesight, who learned the intangible things through objects. For example, if you gave her a warm stone, she was told that it was the color Orange, thus, warmth became the color Orange for her. Despite she had no real awareness of the color as seeing people does. All intangible objects / colors / phenomenons could be associated with an tangible object. Thus she could "picture" the shapes and structures by association. How it actually "displayed" in her mind, I can't tell, but it was a way of learning things she could not see.

my grandparent's both grew up with french (cajun french) as their first language and learned english through school.....one day my brother decided to get all philosophical with my grandmother and asked her "when you think...is it in french or english?".....well she had no idea what he was talking about so i asked the more pertinant question "mais cherre...dat little voice in your head...does it speak french or english?" to which she replied "well both i guess....depends on what it's talking about"


Hehe. I can sort of relate to that. I constantly switch between thinking in "english" (A mix of UK / US and Aussie) and Danish. Whenever I am visiting one of the english speaking sites I frequent, I have discovered, I more or less switch to begin thinking in english terms and grammar. I say more or less, because the more complex the message / post is, the more difficulties I have. And sometimes I have to churn it up in my head in danish, and then translate it to english. Which I don't always succeed in doing very well. (And no, I don't use any spelling plugins) But I have become more adept at it, because I spend a huge time on english speaking sites. Actually, so much that I have caught myself forgetting the danish word for something, altho it was perfectly clear to me, what the word would be in english :)
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#14
countryboypride77

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I was born with bad vision although I'm not blind. My "good", which isn't so good is 20/285 and my bad eye which is very bad is 20/Light. I went through the first 2 1/2 yrs of my life with that vision before anybody realized I had bad vision. My mom says she'll always remember what my face looked like the day the doctor put glasses on me. She says my entire face was lit up and I would look at everything in details. That I would stare at the sky looking at the clouds. Today, I kid about how the birth doctor's thumb stuck me in my bad eye :)

Today, my glasses for my "good" eye has corrected the lenses for my vision to be 20/30 as for the bad eye the lense is only their to balance the glasses, it's unfixable :) Without my glasses, my "good" eye can see blurred objects that are mostly unidentifiable, using the computer as an example I would have to move about 4" to the screen to rid it of the blurriedness.

Thank God they we now have the Thin Lenses :)

As for the bad eye, It's not correctable. 20/Light is pretty self-explanatory. It's exactly what I see. If I hold closed my "good" eye (I'm unable to close that eye by itself, my fingers must assist it if it wants to the only eye to be closed) I simply can only see light. Using the computer as an example, I seem mostly white, I can see a Blue bar (the top Bar where geeks to go! is) I'm unable to see any words at all and I can see hints of yellow dots to the left which I know is the smilies in the side panel.

I am allowed to drive, I have 2 restrictions on my license though, A. must wear corrective lenses and B. must have rear view mirrors (meaning the one inside the car, the one on drivers door and one on passengers door.) I despise driving at night. Oncoming traffic causes all sorts of glares and the idiots who drive with high beams on literally blind me for moments. My left eye is the "good" eye. So, I have a habit of hugging or riding along the center line or on a multi lane highway the line just to the left of my driverside.

Now with having bad vision, my sense of hearing has made up some of the slack. My hearing is excellent. Ironically, I got a job where my hearing is of the utmost importance. Although, I do admit I may have what some call selective hearing which I've heard is mostly a male problem :)

As for being born blind I personally can't say, however, since I felt I was close to being blind from birth, not having corrective vision until I was 2 1/2 yrs old, I thought this would be fitting to share. I wished I could remember that day I first got glasses as well as my mother remembers that day. She said I wouldn't take my eyes off the sky. I never seen the sky until I was 2 1/2 yrs old. Never seen what my own mother truly looked liked, or what any of (at that time only 2 brothers and one new born brother) looked like. Even didn't know what I looked like. My entire world lit up when I was about 2 1/2 yrs old. Amazing.

I do find it unfortunate though how people who do have good vision take their eyes for granted. To me I'm extremely protective of my eyes. One of my worst fears is to lose my "good" eye.
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#15
happyrock

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I went to bed one nite with normal vision in both eyes...woke up in the morning about 5 AM with one eye only seeing a narrow horizontal slit of vision ..aprox...5 % of what I should see...went to the hospital and by the the time they got a ophthalmologist there I had completely lost all vision in that eye...no fix for it...
if I shut my good eye I only see black...
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