What Do Blind People Actually See?

Hint: It's NOT Darkness!

Cover image via Thinkstock via BBC

'What does a blind person see?' is a question blind people get asked all the time. One would assume "complete darkness".

And that would be a completely normal assumption to make for a person who can see.

And this answer on a Quora thread seems to echo that sentiment. It's written by a person, who was blind and also knows people who are blind.

"Blind from birth - nothing. I never saw anything. Therefore, I cannot see black because I do not know what black is. I see abyss as I do not know nor have I ever seen anything to have a knowledge of what anything is."

But do blind people really experience complete darkness?

No, according to BBC journalist Damon Rose.

Damon completely lost his sight as a child, but he says his world isn't pitch black.

In an article from back in February 2015, he wrote that while it's often assumed that blind people experience complete darkness, his experience of this is far from the truth.

"I appreciate this is going to sound odd coming from a blind person but when people ask me what I miss most about not being able to see, my answer is always "darkness".

Image via BBC

Damon, who lost his sight 32 years ago and has no light perception, says his world is far from dark. It is, in fact, quite the opposite.

He says his world is filled with lights.

"Lots of it. Bright, colourful, ever-changing, often terribly distracting, light."

While describing how it feels, Damon says, "Right now I've got a dark brown background, with a turquoise luminescence front and centre. Actually, it's just changed to green… now it's bright blue with flecks of yellow, and there's some orange threatening to break through and cover the whole lot."

Image via BBC

And no matter how much he tries, it never goes away

"I miss those peaceful moments of near darkness: walking at night-time while focusing on the streetlights ahead, the atmospheric shadows in a room with a real fire burning, or travelling home late in the back of my dad's car glimpsing cat's eyes lighting up in the middle of the road," Damon wrote in the BBC piece.

What do you think about Damon's experience? Do you know someone who is blind and sees something completely different? You can write to us at [email protected] or comment below.