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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around...

The link above answers a similar philosophical question.  "If someone who has been blind from birth is suddenly cured, will they actually be able to see?"  Basically the article answers, "No - not at first." 

The study charts five children ages 8-17 that due to cataracts, were able to perceive light but not objects from birth.  After cataract surgery, all children measured an acuity that would allow them to discern objects, but when faced with the task of relating an object they knew by touch to one they could see, they were unable to do it initially.  However, after only three months, all children were able to complete the task.

I feel this teaches us two things about our vision.  First, we actually see with our brains, and those connections have to be made for us to make sense of what the eyes are telling us.  Second, our brains are adaptable to that new information - even after years of deprivation.  There is a school of thought that says children who have amblyopia or "lazy eye" cannot improve after the age of eight.  In this study, all children were over the age of eight and went from light perception to functional vision.

Chances of improving vision are better earlier, that is why we do infant exams (see www.infantsee.org), but even if that "window" of catching the problem before age eight has closed, improvements in vision can occur.

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