Most who are born with the gift of vision lack the ability to comprehend a life without it. They see it as fundamental and are unable to put themselves in the shoes of those who were born with a different reality, a life without vision.
Those who were born legally blind have to rely on their other four senses to guide them through life. The body is quick to adapt to the loss of vision by using the brain power (usually used for vision) to cater to the other senses. The resulting brain is able to make each of the other four senses much stronger than those of the average, viewing person. This ability seems to transfer into the dream-life of these visually-impaired individuals.
A study conducted by SleepMedicine online journal found that the blind dream very similarly to the way that they experience their day-to-day lives, as full sensory experiences. The blind rely more on their other senses to guide them through life, as well as their dreams. During the study, the blind and seeing were asked to record their dreams. The results show that the blind rely much more heavily on their experiences of sound, touch, taste and smell. Those who had vision early on in their life reported some visuals, with the few they were able to decipher showing up as vague images.
To give further understanding to the situation, individuals who are visually-impaired reported what sensations dominated their dreams. It was recorded that 70% of blind individuals felt a touch sensation,(45% of individuals with sight felt this,) 30% reported smell,(15% of individuals with sight,) 86% reported sound, (64% of individuals with sight,) and 18% reported taste (while only 7% of individuals with sight reported taste in their dreams).
The emotional experience of dreams are relatively similar for both the blind and the seeing, but the blind tend to have more nightmares. Scientists have chalked this up to evolution. Dreams are meant to prepare us for potential threats we may perceive in life. It appears that the blind are more sensitive to threats than those who have full vision. It is because of their impairment that they have to pay more attention to walking down a busy street, or turning an unknown corner. With heightened awareness in four senses, those who are visually-impaired may be living a more illusive dream-life than those with full vision will ever get to experience.