“UCSD Study on newly sighted blind people provides clues to development of visual system” – A review.
This article is a report of the study conducted by the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), to determine the effects of long-term blindness to the visual system of human beings. This study was collaborative, but mainly spearheaded by Psychologists Lone Fine and Donald MacLeod from UCSD Department of Psychology. Neuroimaging and psychophysical techniques were employed in this two-year study, to determine how long-time blindness affected the visual cortex of the brain. The main subject of study was Michael May, who had regained his sight at 43 after becoming blind at 3 1/2. He underwent an experimental limbal stem cell transplant in his eye. However, he still experienced the same visual problems, and could not interpret what he was seeing. From this study, it is evident that long-term blindness adversely affects the human visual system, and so sight restoration is not an immediate solution to this.
This is the first comprehensive study of this kind, which shows the troubles the few individuals undergoing sight restoration go through. Unlike previous studies, this one tried to find out what goes on in the visual system to cause all these frustrations to the affected. After sight restoration, only detection of color and motion is possible. Brain scans of the subject showed that object identification, facial expressions and faces were hard to interpret. It seems then, color and motion develop in infancy. Face and object identification come in later stages of life. People who lose sight at a tender age while therefore lack face and object recognition capacities and so will not repossess them after sight restoration.
In conclusion, this study revealed that sight restoration after long-term blindness is a challenging experience for those affected. This therefore should teach us to seek medical assistance for blindness and avoid prolonging the period of blindness for those close to us, since learning to see is not an easy task. Short-term blindness does not greatly affect the visual system as long-term blindness does.
University Of California – San Diego. “UCSD Study On Newly Sighted Blind People Provides
Clues To Development Of Visual System.”ScienceDaily, 26 Aug. 2003. Web. 24 Oct.
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