The lights are off, visibility zero, you here a noise, you get up and fall over your table; now imagine that experience your whole life by being blind. There is more then what meets the eye when we refer to sight. The eye can be surgically trained to see but the mind can not identify the object if it has never been seen. When blind patients feel an object they know what it is because that is how the brain has been trained to identify objects. Those who are deprived of sight and had it surgically restored, still will never regain full sight because of the time and experience both the eye and brain must have, working together to see and separate images. The brain must go through the same training it went through by learning to identify objects by touch. When a person has not been able to see from birth and has the privilege of sight after she/he has gone through the early ?learning? years of it?s life, the brain struggles because of it?s drastic transitional change. Vision is a combination of effort, time, and experience along with the physical eye itself.
One of the main combinations that creates the aspects of vision for the human eye, is effort. The average human, which has been able to see since birth, does not grasp the fact that sight is not an involuntary act. According to John Krist, ?? light strikes to retina, sending impulses to the brain ? there is nothing automatic about the act of seeing? (John Krist, Learning to See the world). Being able to look at an object and identify it is something that we have trained our brain to do since birth. If you were to take someone who has been blind since birth then they would have not gone through that ?training? process. From the day one is born, the brain starts absorbing and being able to make the difference between color, shape, diversity, etc of an object. However, when one is born blind, their brain is trained to use its other senses like touch, smell, hear, and taste with the absence of sight. Therefore, the secret of seeing is the relationship of the brain and the senses that enable it to decipher and identify objects and images.
Another aspect of vision for the human eye is giving the brain time to be able to absorb and understand the difference of sight and touch. When you are born with the ability to see the brain and the eye work together in the ?early learning? years of the child?s life, to grasp the concept of sight. When one is born disabled the hand and the brainwork together to ?see?. When sight is restored through surgery, as an adult, the brain has a much harder time grasping the relationship with the eye. The reason being is that, when you are born, your brain develops with the world around you and you are experiencing things and objects for the first time. As an adult, you have already adapted and set your mind into a certain thinking pattern. The transition the brain must go through after restoration of sight is difficult. When the brain has been trained to ?see? with a certain sense besides the eye, it is hard for it to upgrade into using the eye as the sense of sight. When the eye is actually enabled to see, the brain does not recognize what the eye is viewing. This is the reason that time is crucial in the process of building relationships with any sense of the human body to be able to see.
The final ingredient in the combination of vision is the experience the brain must have to see. When a child is gaining the ability to see, it is absorbing all of its environmental surrounding and the brain is processing them. The ?early learning years? enable the brain to have the experience so that when the actual eye and the brain mature they can coincide to work with each other. The skill the blind eye and the brain need to obtain throughout the life of the disabled individual is different because of the experiences involved. When a child is born blind the brain is being taught to see with its other functioning senses. The experience needed to see with another sense besides the eye, is a difficult because the brain is being taught to use its natural senses that are placed in humans for other purposes to see. Some of the experiences needed for a blind person?s brain to mature and recognize objects can include at an early age beginning to decipher simple objects such as triangles, spheres and circles. Some experiences needed for a seeing individual would be that cartoons and different pictures are used to learn different words that pertain to that specific image. For example the show Sesame Street uses many images and colorful objects to depict letters from the alphabet, fruits, vegetables and even numbers. There is also a system that is used for the blind, which is called the Braille system. This system allows the blind individual to read and understand different materials by feeling the indented marks, which create the Braille. The blind can also use walking sticks or guide dogs to help them find their way to their destination. All of these helpful procedures need experience to perfect and help evolve the sense of sight.
Those who can see do not appreciate their sight until it is lost or it is experienced for themselves. Put yourself in a blind person?s position for a day, most can not function because of the time, effort and experience needed to utilize the sense to see. The cataract surgery to enable vision can be good but sight is hard to restore, the brain must be trained. When a baby is born it matures along with the eyes and the brain. When a baby is born blind the brain forces itself to mature into identifying objects by touch and/or smell. For those individuals who choose to receive surgery to see, there a lot of things that are not ?seen? after the surgery.
Krist, John, ?Learning to See The World?,
Oxnard Star, February 22, 1996.