The Boy Who Sees Without Eyes

Ratings: 7.33/10 from 21 users.


The Boy Who Sees Without EyesBen Underwood lives with his family in the suburbs of Sacramento, California where he attends his local high school. Like any other 14-year-old boy, he loves to play with his friends and chat to girls his age, with whom he seems popular. He looks like any other boy, until he removes his $4,600, hand-crafted eyes. Ben is blind and, like other blind people, relies on some specialist equipment to survive. He uses talking computer software and a Braille machine to help with his homework.

Ben does not have a guide dog, uses no stick, and does not even use his hands to aid his mobility. Instead, he has developed something of a super sense: he is the only person in the world who navigates using clicks. As he walks, he makes a continuous clicking noise with his tongue. As these clicks echo around him, he is able to draw up a detailed mental plan of his surroundings and adjust his direction accordingly.

So accurate is his technique that he is even able to go rollerblading on the street, negotiating narrow gaps between parked cars that even sighted children might find challenging. In fact, Ben’s mother, Aquanetta, inds that her son is far more attentive to the dangers of the road than his friends, always the first to move onto the pavement when a car approaches.

Ben first noticed his talent at the age of seven, when at summer camp. While it began as just a habit, Ben explains, he soon realised that it had potential benefits for navigation. He began to practise every day and developed the system to the point it is at today. It is the fact that Ben is entirely self-taught that is perhaps most astonishing and has led people to use the term ‘genius’ when referring to the boy.

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33 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Tyler


  2. berklas

    simply amazing...

  3. Charles

    Truly marvelous.

  4. Charles

    I just looked up Ben Underwood on-line and found out that the cancer that took his sight eventually claimed his life two years after this documentary. I am so sad for the family. I can't hold back the tears. What a remarkable loveable young man he was.

  5. Adrian

    Amazing ability and just as amazing display of will power and determination from both Ben and his family. It is sad to hear he has past away...

  6. Evan

    Totally awesome! Not a tear-jerker, but very inspirational. And his family is amazing, I love his uncle. The way he laughs at around 30:30 is hilarious!

  7. carpenter

    This documentary lets you realize that your human abilities are unless

  8. Courtney

    I am sure I have seen this method described on another science-themed doc. It was part of an episodic series and it featured a man in his 30-40's. I wish I could remember what it was but the story was this man used clicks in the same way and could tell you whether or not he passed a mailbox or a parked car on the other side of the road. He was also trying to teach his methods to blind children if I remember correctly.

  9. angelusp

    Mothers are too good, I love my mom :)

  10. Olu

    Rest in peace angel.

  11. batman

    this boy is half bat

  12. T-Dog

    It seems all too often that the best of us live far too short while folks like me, with no real problems, complain and bitch year after year after year. Thanks for the reality check Ben.

  13. Jimmy

    Hi he is incredible, but I just wanted to note a typo, it is $46,000 dollar eyes not $4,600

  14. johannesfaust

    the incredible human potencial in action,

    thanks for posting it Vlatko, extremely interesting

  15. Maria



  16. Jose

    This is a must see

  17. Rachel

    Totally amazing!Its definitely one of the best documentaries i've seen in a while.

  18. Dodgy

    This kid was freakin' awesome!
    Saw this documentary before and when I saw it here I watched it again because it's that inspiring :D
    His story makes me appreciate what I have with sight. Who will admit they tried some clicking around the house to see if they were a natural hehe, I did but I'm not too good so far.

    If I ever lose my sight I'm not going to look at a cane as a detriment, just another tool - like eyes themselves and I'll be cracking shins everywhere to get what I need to do done. Oops, sorry will be my mantra if I can get where I need to be. I'm clumsy enough WITH eyes already that no one would be particularly surprised :P

  19. Miguel

    Society teaches people to worry about obstacles or similar aflictions. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, teaches us that they are meant to exist for God to perform his miracles on us. It's just a matter of faith. Although, these words weren't highlighted so much (miracles and faith), they were mentioned and shouldn't be taken so lightly. God bless you all.

  20. Alisa

    That is so beautiful.

  21. rachelnico

    $50,000 for eyes? That's expensive!
    Either way, this boy is very brave and sweet.

  22. rachelnico

    Amazing how someone can adapt to the loss of a sense with overcompensating with another; ultimately to a greater degree than anyone could imagine.
    This boy was brave and smart and left this world way too early.

  23. J

    Similar thing was shown on Stan Lee's super humans. I believe its what Courtney was talking about above.

    It is simply amazing the brain has the capacity to adapt as such.

  24. An_Island

    What a MOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you Aquinat (not sure spelling). You really deserve heaven.
    You inspired me.

  25. ANTNY

    It is quite amazing what can be done when you forget about your limitations. I can see and have also developed this ability to navigate around my environment with my eyes closed in a similar manner.

  26. Guest

    The biggest challenge in life is to climb over one's own ego and then the sky open for blind people AND...for all of us equally!

  27. ajmah

    Only person in the world?? Lots of blind people use a clicking noise method, either tongue or finger clicks to navigate their way around.

  28. Bill Norman

    This dude should teach other blind people to see like this! This could revolutionize technology

  29. Thomas N. Bolton

    Ben's cancer was in check until 2007, when he developed a tumor in his sinus cavity. Intensive treatment failed to knock down the disease.
    He passed away on January 19, 2009 at age of 16.

    In his final days, Ben enjoyed listening to gospel music and getting neck and back massages. He seemed more concerned about his mother's emotional state than his own pain, forgoing medications and assuring her that he was fine. "He motivated people who wanted to see again, wanted to live again," Aquanetta Gordon said. "Ben was blind, but he saw more than most."

  30. L0LAW0NKA

    I'm sorry he died. If he had lived, he would have done something extraordinary, but I guess he was already amazing enough.

  31. Mike Keller

    unless... ???? Unless what

  32. Gurcharan Singh Khamba


  33. Matx

    wow dying of cancer...

    guess he didn't see that coming

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