Scientists find why the deaf see better
Researchers at the University of Sheffield discovered that the retinas of people born deaf or who lost their hearing early in life are developed differently from those in people who can hear.
This gave them greater peripheral vision, allowingthem to see more and thus increase their awareness of their surroundings and any potential hazards, the Daily Mail reported.
According to the researchers, retinal nerve cells are distributed differently in those who are deaf and those who can hear.
This makes them prioritise what they can see at theirfurthest peripheral vision, close to their ears, they said.
While previous research had already uncovered the link between deafness and increased peripheral vision, scientistshad thought the visual cortex in the brain was responsible, not the retinas.
Working on behalf of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, the Sheffield researchers used ocular coherence tomography to scan the retinas of study participants. The scientists dilated the pupils of the participants just before scanning their retinas. They also measured their visual fields in both eyes to compare with the retina scans.
The results recorded a significant correlation betweenchanges in retinal distribution in deaf individuals and the effect this had on widening their peripheral vision.
Study co-author Dr Charlotte Codina said: "Our hope is that as we understand the retina and vision of deaf people better, we can improve visual care for deaf people." The new findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE.