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Reversing Blindness in India

January 8, 2016

A project that restores sight to blind people in India is highlighting the resiliency of the human brain.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Seeing the brain in a new light. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

An effort to restore sight to blind children in India is leading to new understandings of the human brain. Science magazine correspondent Rhitu Chatterjee says there’s a critical period of brain development ending by age eight that lets us make sense of visual stimuli. Eye doctors generally didn’t treat older children who were born blind.

RHITU CHATTERJEE (Science magazine):

Because it was assumed, well, it doesn’t matter if you fix the eyes, the brain is not going to be able to learn to interpret those signals and make sense of what the eyes are seeing.

HIRSHON:

But Project Prakash has treated hundreds of older children and even young adults. And while some visual functions can’t be fully restored, most patients learn to see and use vision effectively. The work is changing how science views the brain, and its ability to adapt in the face of immense challenges. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.