Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

Basically, I would like to know if there has been any documented cases of blind people that have been blind all their lives and suddenly (with the use of medicine or other) gained sight.
I am doing a project for school and came across this page. This in turn sparked many curious thoughts such as this one.
What would it be like to not know what anything looked like, and then wake up one day and be able to see everything? Would it be such a shock that you wouldn't be able to comprehend it all? Would you even understand what you are perceiving to be "sight". I have actually wondered this in the back of my mind for quite sometime.
Just like if humans had another sense that we have not yet unlocked and found how to use, if I woke up tomorrow with full usage of this new sense, I would not understand it. I cannot be able to fathom what it would be like.
Please, and kind of answers would be very much appreciated as this is something that has riddled me for years. Also, If anyone knows of any documented cases in which a blind person has been able to see for the first time, please let me know.

There are currently 9 replies

Sort Replies Oldest to Newest

Re: Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

There are so many types of blindness or legal blindness. A friend of mine got occular implants and can now drive a car after a lifetime of being legally blind.

Re:Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

I don't know anyone personally. I do know that medical science is achieving break throughs by enabling blind people to see.

My thoughts are exactly in line with yours. A person who has been blind from birth can create visual images of shapes (ie: circle, squares, buildings, etc.) But they could never comprehend grass, trees, etc. Most of all color; it would be entirly impossible to explain it to a blind person.

Re:Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

I have personal knowledge of what this is like. Because this is very personal for me to tell you how my life is different from being born nearly totally blind to seeing everything clearly, today. It is phenomenonal experience. Nearly no one believes this can happen! I am wondering if you could you send another picture much like your you and your dog; so, I would know it is really you rather than someone trying to impersonate you? you can me contact at

Re:Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

There is one man who not only gained sight for the first time in his life at age 17, but is now teaching others how to do the same.

"Born Blind

Meir Schneider was born with cataracts and other serious vision problems. After five unsuccessful surgeries on the lenses of his eyes, which left them shattered and filled with scar tissue, doctors pronounced his condition hopeless and he was certified permanently legally blind. He performed his reading and schoolwork in Braille.

At age 17, Meir learned the Bates Method of eye exercises. He practiced them with a diligence that probably no one had ever applied to them before, up to 13 hours a day, undeterred by the skepticism of family and friends. To this he added his own regimen of self-massage and movement.

Learning to See

Within six months, he could recognize visual objects for the first time; within 18 months, he could read print without glasses. His vision continued to improve, and today is 20/80. He holds a current unrestricted California driver’s license."

Re:Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

Only case I know of is Vicki Umipeg, who had first seen during her near-death experience (NDE).

It's not only one of the incredibly rare case of a person (temporarily) gaining sight, but also a strong argument that NDEs are real. It is known for sure that they do happen, the only question is whether they are hallucinations caused by distorted signals from a dying brain, or a real glimpse into the afterlife. If Vicki had really gained sight, it would be a suggestion that the latter is correct, as she was most certainly not seeing through her eyes.

I am a bit skeptical, though. I don't know how she could be so sure that it was sight she was experiencing. As someone who is blind since birth, she should have no good concept of what sight is like. Perhaps she was just experiencing some other anomaly caused by a near-death state which was new to her, and she concluded that is must be sight.

Re:Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

I've come across 2 real life stories where a blind person has gained sight.

and another story recently where an elderly blind man had a heart attack and gained vision from it! amazing stuff!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

Two-year-old girl can see for the first time following stem cell treatment
Two-year-old British girl Dakota Clarke can see for the first time after undergoing pioneering stem cell treatment in China.

By Nick Britten
Published: 3:07PM GMT 04 Mar 2009
Dakota Clarke: Two-year-old girl can see for the first time following stem cell treatment
Dakota Clarke, who was born blind, is the first British patient to undergo the new type of therapy in China Photo: BARCROFT

Dakota, who was born blind, is the first British patient to undergo the new type of therapy.

The £30,000 treatment, which involves stems cells taken from an umbilical cord being fed into her forehead, has allowed her to see people, objects, colours and lights around her.

Related Articles

Blind British boy seeks stem cell treatment in China
New eye test gives hope to wannabe pilots
Stem cell research into blindness given boost by drug company
Stem cell treatment for most common form of blindness developed by British scientists
Blind could be cured by stem cells grown in contact lenses, claim scientists

Dakota suffers from Septo-Optic Dysplasia, which means the optic nerve does not develop properly, and has responded quicker than expected to the treatment. Her parents, Wilma, 28, and dad Darren, 34, are hoping she will continue to improve and have a life time of sight.

Speaking from the Qingdao People's Hospital in southern China, Mrs Clarke, from Newtownabbey. near Belfast, said: "We didn't know if the treatment would work, and people kept telling us it was too experimental, but we had to do this.

"It's been worth every single penny to see the changes in her."

Mr Clarke added: "It's nothing short of a miracle for us. She can see the world for the first time.

"Last week she pointed at a hairbrush across the room and shouted 'brush'. I almost cried with happiness.

"Her balance is so improved and she can now walk beside me only holding on with one hand. Previously she would veer in circles and fall over."

Dakota, who has an older brother, Jake, nine, nearly died at birth and has spent much of her life in hospital.

Her condition meant she was registered blind, had poor growth, balance issues and needed two people holding her hands to help her walk.

She also had severe bowel problems and could not use the toilet herself.

The technique the doctors in China used is referred to as IV, where the stem cells are injected intravenously into her bloodstream. They then repair the damaged cells.

After just three weeks of stem cell treatment she can now see, her eyes are tracking together for the first time, and she is able to recognise people and objects without touching them.

She can also walk with just one parent holding her hand, and is using the toilet easily without the help of medication.

In their search for help for Dakota, the family exhausted the medical options in the UK before setting up a fund and raising £30,000 for the treatment.

They eventually found a clinic in China run by Beike Biotech, an American research company contracted to provide experimental stem cells for treatment at twenty-four hospitals in China.

Jon Hakim, its head of communications said: "We didn't think IV alone could make such dramatic improvements. But Dakota's experiences are making us completely rethink our use of IV."

Only about 15 people worldwide have tried the new treatment in China for Dakota's condition.

The first was five-year-old American girl, Rylea Bartlett, who was completely blind before July 2007, but now is able to read the top line of letters in an eye test.

Dr Tom Liu, a stem cell specialist and director of the centre, is planning a breakthrough medical report on its work in collaboration with UCLA to be published later this year.

He said: "We are very impressed with Dakota's progress so far and hope further tests will reveal further improvements.

"The use of stem cells taken from the umbilical chord is completely safe. As we learn more about the way these cells work our results are getting better and better."

Doctors in the UK have expressed concerns that the treatment is unproven and may not have lasting effects.

Re:Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

I am currently going to school for a program that works with the blind.

I don't believe there have been any documented cases where people have regained anything close to full eyesight.

I know one of my classmates has a friend who was born blind, but recently has managed to get some sight (she can now see colour). Not sure how much detail, but it's pretty confusing.

It also depends on how long a person has been blind. If a person was born blind (or born before the age of visual memory, which some research indicates may be as much as 5 years old), the brain rewires the connections to use the brainpower for other things. I know that people using technological assistive devices that use their hearing to help "see" has much of the visual cortex rewired into their hearing.

One important note, though. It depends on why the person is unable to see. If they were blind because of damage to the eye or optic nerves, then the brain never got any signals from the eyes. However, if they were born with Cortical Visual Impairment, it is possible to train them how to use their vision, since the brain is capable of rewiring what it can see.

Re:Has a blind person ever gained sight for the first time in thier lives?

My husband has been blind ever since birth and he has recently been told by a doctor that there is hope for him to see out of one eye, right now we are working to get that done. If you would like to ask any questions you can contact me at :

Log in to Post a Reply