Normally speaking when we hear an individual is blind we automatically assume he or she cannot see anything at all. However, new research refutes this notion, suggesting there are alternative ways blind individuals see.
Individuals who are functionally blind can see slightly, but not well enough to get by without modifying their lives. These modification include learning braille or listening to books on tapes. Someone who is legally blind has 20/200 vision based on a tradition eye exam. Once your vision can be corrected with a visual aid you are not considered legally blind. Partial vision loss varies, but it commonly refers to those who experience cloudy or fuzzy images and struggle to see shapes.
Total blindness refers to those who lack the ability to see anything at all. Yet new research has discovered in many cases individuals who are totally blind may in fact perceive light non-visually.
Previous research conducted by Clyde Keeler, Harvard University alum, found mice whose eyes lacked light-sensing cells located in the retina (photoreceptors) contained different cells that detect light without influencing vision. Additionally, humans also have these light-detecting cells.
For those of us who are not blind, our brain process visual information through the visual cortex located in the occipital lobe. According to Morton Heller, a psychologist who studies spatial cognition and blindness at Eastern Illinois University, brain images also indicated that blind people's brain process data through their visual cortex as well.
"When blind people read Braille using touch, the sensory data is being sent to and processed in the visual cortex. Using touch, they get a sense of space," he told the Huffington Post. In a study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers found blind people are skilled in echolocating silent objects by producing mouth clicks and listening to the returning sounds.