Whether blind people dream or not depends on whether they were born with the condition or acquired it later. Research is inconclusive about whether blind-from-birth individuals dream.
Conversely, those who acquire blindness later most likely do, and the older they are, the more visual content their dreams are likely to have.
In comparison to people with sight, the dreams of blind individuals tend to have more input from the senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell.
Additionally, aside from dreaming about people and places that were part of their lives before becoming blind, they also dream about things they have encountered afterward.
This article explains whether blind people dream, what they dream about, what the visual content of their dreams is like, and whether they have nightmares.
Blindness from birth
Researchers have differing views about whether blind-from-birth people, otherwise known as congenitally blind, dream visual dreams. A 2018 study involving 11 blind participants found that congenitally blind people had either very few or no visual dreams.
Somewhat in contrast, older 2005 research suggests that the congenitally blind have a visual component to their dreams. Prior studies note that these people use the visual cortex in the brain to process auditory input from the sense of hearing and tactile input from the sense of touch.
The visual cortex is part of the brain that receives and coordinates visual input. This can create virtual images in the brain, which manifest in dreams.
Acquired blindness before age 5–7
Individuals who become blind in early childhood probably experience more visual dream content than the congenitally blind but less than those who become blind later. Those in this category likely have differing quantities of visual elements in their dreams, depending on their developmental stage at the age of becoming blind.
Acquired blindness after age 5–7
Blind people dream about places and individuals they saw before becoming blind, but they also dream about things that have entered their life afterward. This indicates that when dreaming, the mind constructs a world rather than merely reproduces the world in which a person is familiar.
Just as in the dreams of sighted individuals, the dreams of blind people are lifelike stories in which they play a role, interact with others, and have sensory experiences.
The visual content varies among blind people. Some may see full visual scenes like sighted individuals, while others may see more vague, less detailed visual images. Still, others may have no visual component in their dreams.
While the visual content of dreams reduces, the dreams of the blind contain an increase in sensory input from sound, touch, taste, and smell. Their mind seems to use these senses to compensate for the limited visual input.
The authors concluded that the higher number of nightmares may reflect the increased occurrence of threatening life experiences in this group.
Researchers have varying opinions about whether the congenitally blind dream. Conversely, individuals who have acquired blindness at some point after birth likely do dream, but their dreams probably have less visual content than the dreams of those with sight.
The dreams of blind people feature more sensory input from hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Additionally, the content of the dreams does not limit to individuals and places they knew prior to becoming blind, as it includes those they have encountered afterward as well.
Just like the dreams of sighted people, those of blind individuals have an emotional aspect. This translates into experiencing nightmares that involve difficulties they have when traveling.