University’s groundbreaking discovery

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DEAF people have better vision because their eyes develop differently – according to groundbreaking research by Sheffield University scientists.

A team has found that the retinas of adults who were either born deaf or who lost their hearing during their early childhood go through significant changes – unlike people who can hear.

The result is that the eyes of deaf people are able to capture more peripheral visual information.

The research, funded by the RNID – Action on Hearing Loss charity, was led by Dr Charlotte Codina and Dr David Buckley from the university’s Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics.

They found that the retinal neurones in deaf people appear to be distributed differently to enable them to prioritise the extreme edges of their vision – out towards their ears.

Previous research had shown deaf people were able to see further than hearing adults, although it was thought the area responsible for this change was the visual cortex, the area of the brain that is particularly dedicated to processing visual information.

Dr 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 sense which is so profoundly important to them.”