Visual Impairment and Olfactory Acuity

Contact Author Baljit Singh and Kamna Mago, CPL Aromas FZE; Shivali Sonavadekar, CPL Aromas Pvt. Ltd.; Sushant Bankhele, S. Babu, S. Deshpande, D. Sahu and L. Mirkar, Anthea Aromatics; and Garry Dix, CPL Aromas Ltd.
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Visual impairment can have an adverse effect on an individual’s social life, economic status and emotional well-being. Many impaired individuals, however, are able to maintain a degree of independence. Crucial for this autonomy, stability and general health and well-being is gainful employment. Unfortunately, the visually impaired may find themselves limited in terms of available employment opportunities.

A common theory regarding senses and perception is that other senses become more acute as a compensatory measure after one sense is lost or impaired. Whether this is an actual physical improvement in acuity, or simply an improvement in cognitive awareness of the input from the remaining senses, is outside the scope of this article, and has been debated elsewhere. The end result is the same in either case: a perceived improvement in acuity, which can be subjected to appropriate tests and measured.

A comparative improvement in a visually impaired individual’s sense of smell could potentially lead to employment opportunities within the fragrance industry, where such skills are highly valued.