What Is Change Blindness, and Why Does It Happen?

There is a limit to how much visual data your brain can handle at once. When what you see changes in any manner yet you fail to see it, it's known as change blindness.

The world is full of things and images that your eyes take in and interpret for you mentally. These visual representations can occasionally alter, but you might not realise it until after an interruption—like a blink—has occurred. It is referred to as "change blindness" when this occurs.

This is a quite regular occurrence and not always dangerous. However, change blindness can occasionally result in mishaps and other hazards. Learn more about change blindness, its causes, and the circumstances that make it crucial to identify.

What is change blindness?

A visual condition known as "change blindness" occurs when an individual is staring at something and it changes without their awareness. This may occur while an individual is observing a picture on a screen, such as a smartphone or television, or when they are exposed to visual cues in their immediate surroundings.

Change blindness is the inability to recognise changes in your visual environment following a pause, according to the American Psychological Association. For instance, someone might blink while driving along the street. They might not have realised that something ahead of them, such as a sign or traffic light, had changed after blinking.

Interestingly, change blindness may be a prerequisite for some of your favourite magic performances. Various strategies could be used by the magician to deflect your gaze and make something emerge that you hadn't noticed before.

What causes change blindness?

There are several reasons why people experience change blindness. All things considered, it might be largely related to your visual focus. Change blindness occurs when your focus is drawn away from an object or image in a particular circumstance.

The incapacity of your brain to encode visual information into short-term working memory, a component of executive functioning, could also be the cause of this phenomenon. Change blindness, on the other hand, could happen if the visual information in question isn't as important as the current activity.

Researchers found that change blindness may be influenced by the significance of distinct visual information in a study involving construction workers. For instance, they displayed pictures to the employees and asked them to identify any discrepancies.

The most noticeable changes were made to items that have an impact on someone's safety, such as ladder dangers. When compared to workers with less experience, those with more experience tended to observe more changes.

What are the symptoms of change blindness?

Not recognising changes in the visual environment following an interruption is the main sign of change blindness.

The following are examples of disruptions that cause change blindness:
  • blinking or making rapid eye movements, or saccades, from one thing to another
  • something or anything else that obstructs your field of vision
  • very gradual adjustments to your visual surroundings
Those with cognitive disorders that impair working memory may notice change blindness more easily. Those suffering from dementia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug or alcohol abuse, or inadequate sleep are a few examples of this.

How is change blindness diagnosed?

Change blindness is not a disease that medical professionals can identify. Rather, it's a visual phenomenon that varies in intensity among persons and is seen in daily life.

Change blindness can be directly experienced through visual tests in which you are required to focus on a single picture or video. An interruption of some kind, such as a blank screen, may then be inserted, followed by the presentation of an identical but modified image.

Your level of change blindness will be evident by your ability to either perceive or not perceive a change between the two images or videos.

How can you stop or become more aware of change blindness?

Change blindness does not have a defined course of treatment. Moreover, this phenomenon probably has no known remedy. According to research, the main cause of change blindness is a person's attention span, which can vary greatly depending on several factors.

In addition to being aware that change blindness can occur, you can reduce your chance of mishaps by abstaining from substances that impair working memory, such as alcohol, drugs, and sleep deprivation. Refraining from needless visual distractions (such as using a cell phone while driving) may also be beneficial.

What are the risks of having change blindness?

It becomes more crucial to identify change blindness in circumstances where a clear sense of the visual world is required. When watching takeoffs and landings, people in specific positions, such as air traffic controllers, run the danger of having an accident if they develop change blindness.

Similarly, there could be a chance of change blindness when operating a car. You can be in a potentially fatal accident if you don't notice a change in the road ahead of you.

Change blindness could have negative effects on eyewitness reports as well. Particularly when it comes to court cases, one's perception—or lack thereof—can have significant implications.

What’s the outlook for people with change blindness?

Once more, change blindness is not a disease for which a person is given a diagnosis. It's something that everyone can occasionally encounter to varying degrees.

A person with change blindness will have a varying prognosis depending on their attention span, certain medical issues that may impair their working memory, and lifestyle choices that may potentially cause distraction or inattention.


If you think that your daily life is being negatively impacted by change blindness, consult a physician or other healthcare provider. Occasionally, it could be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as dementia or sleep deprivation. If not, make every effort to avoid distractions when doing necessary duties like driving or working.


Is change blindness bad?

Change blindness is necessary because people can become injured or suffer serious repercussions if they fail to notice important changes in their environment, such as the absence of a safety element.

Can you change blindness without the presence of a mask?

When a standard disruption paradigm was applied, they discovered a comparable level of change blindness. Here, we show that the absence of a contemporaneous distractor transient or masking motion signal can nonetheless result in profound change blindness to a smooth colour change.

Does change blindness increase with age?

May increase with age

At what age does your eyesight become weak?

Between ages 41 to 60

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