Blindness and the Brain

Physical changes

Blindness can affect the structure of the developing brain

As a caretaker, it is normal to want to understand what is happening. For a crash course in brain anatomy, see here. It is important to understand that age plays a huge part in structural changes during blindness. In a child/person, the brain develops in relative proportion. When blindness occurs, that proportion can change. A 5 year old and a 15 year old will have a different brain reactions if vision is suddenly impaired. Both age groups find that there a changes in the brain due to the lack of sensory input. According to Science Daily, the frontal lobes of the brain are enlarged in the blind (2009). This are of the brain is responsible for memory. This makes sense. A better memory will help a blind person adapt. Also, other senses will provide more input. Consider Daniel Kish's adaptations in his video. He uses echo to move.

Although there are similarities, there is a difference. A young child has a different reaction to sudden blindness than an older child. The younger child has a difference in the corpus callosum. This is the area that helps to transmit visual information between hemispheres (Science Daily, 2009). They are the main group of axons that connect the hemispheres (Breedlove & Watson, 2013). This affects cognitive function. Contact the American Foundation for the Blind for more assistance.

There is hope for the future. According to Michael Proulex, the brain can, in some cases, help vision "remap" itself. This gives the opportunity to reconstruct the visual cortex. For more information, read Blindness: Remapping the brain.