Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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I am a high school health instructor and we are studying the senses right now. My students had some good questions that I couldn't answer. 1)  Why do some people who are blind keep their eyes open and others mostly keep their eyes closed? 2)  Do the pupils of people who suffer from blindness constrict and dilate in response to light?

There are many reasons for a patient becoming blind, e.g., born blind, blind from trauma, functionally blind from retinal or optic nerve disease, etcetera. So, depending on how the patient became blind, the degree to which they open or close their eyes may vary. Someone born blind may never have had much stimulus to open their eyes as opposed to someone who had always had vision but now has lost all central vision due to retinal disease—their eye opening response is normal since they have had a certain degree of vision all their lives.  

With regard to pupillary response to light—this too depends on the origin of their blindness. Diseases such as optic neuropathy can affect the pupillary response whereas a retinal injury or degeneration where there is still peripheral vision will leave the pupillary response unimpaired.

Answered by: Jeffrey Whitman, MDDr. Jeffrey Whitman

Categories: Eye Conditions, General Eye Health

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Answered: Jun 04, 2012

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