Saturday, June 4, 2011

Does Deafness Give You Better Sight?

"Oh, you wear hearing aids! That must mean you can see very well!"

Super Eyes
From Flickr user John 'K'
Image of a young child, eyes, nose and ear visible.
For me, that isn't true. Not only do I wear glasses and see little but fuzz when I have them out, I get really disoriented in the dark. I'm visually oriented, sure - I like bright colors and movement and illustrations - but I don't think I'm any better at seeing than anybody else in particular.

However, a new study has shown that some deaf people, who were born deaf or became deafened early in life, actually do have better - or at least different - vision than other people. People who have this advantage have more of a focus on their vision towards the sides, while people with typical vision focus mostly on what is in front of them. Scientists discovered this by scanning the retinas of deaf people, and noticed a difference in the neurones on their retinas.

The study says that "a lifetime of sensory deprivation" can cause the physical parts of the body to reorganize themselves, to better cope. In addition to better side-vision, the study also mentions that deaf individuals communicating in American Sign Language show activation in the auditory cortex - not where you would expect activation to a visual stimulus.

I think this is all pretty cool. What do you think? Do you think you have better - or unique - vision compared to your hearing peers?

(via io9)


  1. very interesting post! by analogy, there's also studies that show that blind people tend to have a heightened sense of touch.
    with regards to hearing vs. vision loss, it seems that this correlation inverses with older age, as this study seemed to show:

    congratulations, you have a great blog!

  2. I have vision issues as well even though I'm hearing impaired. I've met quite a bit of the hearing impaired community in my town and quite a few of them wore glasses.

    I do have a strong sense of smell though. Which sometimes helps and sometimes I wish I didn't have it. I know my sense of smell is stronger than my husbands but then again he has great vision and hearing.


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