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February 1998

Is Perception of Light Useful to the Blind Patient?

Arch Ophthalmol. 1998;116(2):236-238. doi:10.1001/archopht.116.2.236

So if your eye is sound, your body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness.—Matthew 6:22-23 (Revised Standard Bible)

BLINDNESS AFFLICTS more than 1 million Americans, 10% of whom have no conscious perception of light.1 The most rudimentary form of vision is the ability to see light. In the ancient oceans, life forms developed faint patches of skin that were sensitive to light. They could tell light from dark and the direction of the light source but that was all. Phototropism in organisms from Amoeba to Drosophila may represent the elemental form of light perception in our biological roots.2 Presumably, these ancient ancestors found some value and usefulness in light perception "vision" despite having no eyes in many cases. We now perceive light with the help of our complex eye, but has the view of "useful vision" in humans traveled a parallel course? Does the loss of light perception leave our bodies as "full of darkness" as the biblical reference suggests?

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