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akiwiguy
07-02-2007, 08:26 AM
Hi,

Firstly apologies for how ignorant some of these questions may seem, but I've realised I have almost no first-hand knowledge.

A short story I'm working on includes a character who is totally blind (I'm imagining he has progressively become so, from a degenerative condition). There are certain little observations I'm making in my draft that I need to think about a bit. So considering my character...

(1) Is it possible that his eyes would sometimes appear to focus on a person to whom he was talking? Simply, I mean, because he knew exactly where they were. And would they tend to face that person the way I might, given that they can't see them? (I have in mind images I've seen in movies, that may or may not be accurate).

(2) Are there conditions whereby the eyes could appear to have no damage, in other words to an observer there would be absolutely nothing different than those of a healthy person?

(3) Would a person who had gradually learned to live with such a deteriorating condition, once blind, be able to move around his own home and do everyday tasks reasonably fluidly, without the use of (say) a cane?

I would really appreciate help from anyone who could answer these questions.

Fenika
07-02-2007, 08:39 AM
For the 3rd Q, try At First Sight. A so-so movie but with lots of good descriptions.
Cheers,
Christina

TsukiRyoko
07-02-2007, 08:55 AM
I used to have a blind friend, so I think I'll try my hand at this one.

1. Yes. My friend used to seem to look either right at the person or close to them when they were talking. Most of the time he didn't bother doing so, but he could do it.

2. I haven't seen a blind person without clouded-looking eyes so far, so I can't say for sure, but I don't see why it isn't probable.

3. My friend was blind since he was an infant, but he only used a cane outside or sometimes when he went up and down stairs or his parents moved something in the house (this didn't happen often). He knew his way around pretty well, and eveyrone was sure to put the chairs and stuff in their proper position so he could navigate without bumping into anything (though, I have to say that I've only seen him stumble one or twice, and I always forgot to put my chair in. He said he could sense it, kind of like how you can sometimes sense something that's in your way in the dark, only to a much higher degree.)

Hope I could help.

akiwiguy
07-02-2007, 09:03 AM
Thanks folk, but Tsuki... you touched on something that I meant to ask. You may have answered it actually...

(4) Would it be true that a blind person might, through use of their other senses or whatever, have a quite acute sense that someone else was in the room, and perhaps even where that person was. I mean, suppose the person had walked in very quietly. This may be very integral to my story as it happens.

TsukiRyoko
07-02-2007, 09:10 AM
Thanks folk, but Tsuki... you touched on something that I meant to ask. You may have answered it actually...

(4) Would it be true that a blind person might, through use of their other senses or whatever, have a quite acute sense that someone else was in the room, and perhaps even where that person was. I mean, suppose the person had walked in very quietly. This may be very integral to my story as it happens.
Yep, that's a definite. Their ability to sense their surroundings is incredible. They can sense where things are, people are- usually they have a good idea of where they are and how to move around the place even if they've never been there before.

Also, no matter how quietly you walk, you'll probably be caught by a blind person. My friend claimed he could hear even the tiniest noises (seemed to be very true), feel the creaks of the shifting weight through the vibrations in the floor (also seemed to be true most of the time), and even if you were just standing he could hear you move or breathe. Also, no matter how quiet you are, they can still usually sense you. It's phenomenal.

WriterInChains
07-02-2007, 09:21 AM
I used to work across the street from a school for blind adults, & my daughter's g/f is legally blind. This is just from my own experience & observation.

1. Someone who wasn't born blind would probably look at you, but their eyes wouldn't necessarily appear "focused on you." It's a habit. Or, they may not. It's pretty individual & some of the folks I knew were self-conscious & never took off their dark glasses so it was hard to tell.

2. I doubt it, but don't know for sure.

3. You betcha. After a while, some of the folks from the school would fold up their cane at the door to the restaurant -- and it was like an obstacle course in there. I've never seen my daughter's s.o. use her cane and she gets around just fine, although she does stick close out in public.

September skies
07-02-2007, 09:58 AM
Hi,

(1) Is it possible that his eyes would sometimes appear to focus on a person to whom he was talking? Simply, I mean, because he knew exactly where they were. And would they tend to face that person the way I might, given that they can't see them? (I have in mind images I've seen in movies, that may or may not be accurate).

(2) Are there conditions whereby the eyes could appear to have no damage, in other words to an observer there would be absolutely nothing different than those of a healthy person?

(3) Would a person who had gradually learned to live with such a deteriorating condition, once blind, be able to move around his own home and do everyday tasks reasonably fluidly, without the use of (say) a cane?

I would really appreciate help from anyone who could answer these questions.

kiwi: I lived with a blind man for 17 years -- my father. He was blind when I was born. So I will answer in reference to him.
1. My father turned blind from a welding injury at age 20 - so he was never able to focus on a person because of any shadow. He did, however, have a super keen sense of anyone who may enter the room. He always turned to anyone he was speaking with and people often asked me if he could see them. He couldn't. I remember sneaking into his room for something and then freezing when he walked in the room. He would stop as he entered and ask "Who is in here?" -- he always knew! He could also recognize everyone by their voice and he'd greet them by name.
2. My father's eyes were completely cloudy. I have written stories about our local blind babies (http://midnightwritings.blogspot.com/2006/04/blind-babies.html#links) association - almost every child either had cloudy eyes or eyes that moved upward - since they can't see, they don't focus on anything and the eye gets "lazy"
3. My father never used a cane - and he got around beautifully. Our home had to be spotless - nothing left laying around. But his blindness did not stop him. He learned to play accordion and piano by ear, (already played guitar) and became a businessman. He started a credit union in our city, ran two stores and had his own radio show for 17 years. He was amazing.
Blind people can be pretty determined. They can do anything. I know.

September skies
07-02-2007, 10:01 AM
I want to add - people who have really poor vision -- 20/200 -- are considered legally blind. And yes, those people might see the shadow of a person standing in front of them.

Fenika
07-02-2007, 10:32 AM
I can answer #2, but only technically:
Blindness can be caused in the eye itself (ex- retinal detachment), in the optic nerves, or anywhere in the brain that processes this info.
I am wondering if the eyes would appear different from lack of use. A newly blind person might look perfectly normal, depending on the area affected (and if they managed to focus as another poster described). Long term, as I stated, I don't know if the eyes would be disfigured.
Cheers,
Christina
PS- you might try a med sight for more technical info on the causes of blindness, I gave you the 1/2 cent tour.

ALLWritety
07-02-2007, 12:15 PM
as for Q1 & 2 Don't know.

3. Definately. My blind friend goes all over the city with no dog or cane. He does have a cane but rarely uses it.

4. Oh yes. If one of you senses stops working the others seem highten to compensate for the loss. So a blind persons smell, hearing. touch and tatse all would become sharper more focused.

I don't know if this is relevant for your story but something i found from my blind friend:
If they are walking with a seeing person it is better if they take your arm. If you grab their arm they don't feel in control and that can make things even more scary for them. You are "dragging them". If they take your arm you are leading them. Can you understand what i am saying here?

Also if doing this it is good for the seeing person to give tips ie. step down/up, at the kerb, etc.

Kev

Tsu Dho Nimh
07-07-2007, 11:37 PM
(1) Is it possible that his eyes would sometimes appear to focus on a person to whom he was talking? Simply, I mean, because he knew exactly where they were. And would they tend to face that person the way I might, given that they can't see them? (I have in mind images I've seen in movies, that may or may not be accurate).

Yes, especially if they were previously sighted, as a habit. People who were blind from birth never learned to look at things, so they have that forward-aimed stare.


(2) Are there conditions whereby the eyes could appear to have no damage, in other words to an observer there would be absolutely nothing different than those of a healthy person?

Most of the degenerative diseases have no outward signs, except for the pupils not reacting to lights.


(3) Would a person who had gradually learned to live with such a deteriorating condition, once blind, be able to move around his own home and do everyday tasks reasonably fluidly, without the use of (say) a cane?

If there is no one else there, moving things around, they probably can.

Difficult areas:
Cleaning (can't see dirt)
Cooking (can't read labels, directions, control knobs)
Bathing (can't read labels)
Laundry (can't read labels and machine controls)

JoNightshade
07-07-2007, 11:58 PM
I have spent a lot of time with two different blind people: One man who was blind from birth, and another who had a degenerative condition so that his eyes got gradually worse. This man was in his 40s and all he could see were shadows of light and dark.

There was a HUGE difference between these two people. Guy #1 got around exceptionally well and was incredibly capable. He knew everyone by what they sounded like and he was very sharp. I was his assistant in one of his classes... he was going to college to be a teacher. He told me stories of driving cars and riding bikes when he was little. He said his main problem when riding a bike was with parked cars, because he couldn't hear them! His eyes looked normal but they tended to roll up a bit and flicker. He didn't look at you, but he would turn toward whoever was speaking. He used a cane to get around outside. I didn't know him at home but he had a few kids and seemed to do fine with them.

Guy #2 was not so fortunate. Going blind after you've been able to see really sucks because you just never get over depending on that sense. Sure, his hearing was great, but he would say things like "What's that noise? What are you doing now?" And he would ALWAYS need you to tell him. Whereas with Guy #1, he'd know. Guy #2 did not use a cane. Instead he would always want to hold my hand in public. (Not even the elbow thing.) He drove me nuts to be around (I read his mail for him) because he had almost driven himself nuts over details like counting steps, and he couldn't keep it to himself, he'd have to tell me about every little calculation he made in his head. He wouldn't look at you straight on either because what he could see was out of the corners of his eyes, so he'd look to your right or your left, trying to see you in his peripheral vision. He lived alone and his house was a mess. Sure, everything had its place, but everything was filthy. Just imagine how it would be if you spilled, say, a bit of soda. And you couldn't quite tell exactly where it had splashed. So you wiped a bunch of stuff, but you missed that spot over in the corner. After a few years, everything is just gross. And he freaks out if you move anything, because if you move it, it's like it doesn't exist for him anymore. Drop a pencil under the couch? Gone. Move that pile of bills across the room? Gone. So he was soooo so so so freaking anal and found it hard to trust anyone. Okay, part of that is just a really annoying personality. ;)

My conclusion? Way better to be born blind. :)

BlueTexas
07-08-2007, 03:11 AM
I want to add - people who have really poor vision -- 20/200 -- are considered legally blind. And yes, those people might see the shadow of a person standing in front of them.

Just in case this is useful, I'm 20/400 in one eye and 20/600 in the other. I can see most everything large in a room, I just have no ability to tell what it is. Colors and shapes. Say I walk in to a living room - I'll see your TV, but not your knick-knacks until I'm right up on them.

I can recognize people I've known for a long time from a distance by their movement - gait usually, or the way a head is held. In high school, I could pick out friends down a crowded hall by gait.

This is all without my glasses. With them, most people can't tell how poor my vision is. Depth perception with glasses is still a big problem, as are stairs.