Biology History Strange

Edwin Robinson’s Vision and Hearing Restored by a Lighting Strike


On June 9, 1980 in Falmouth, Maine a 62-year-old blind and partially deaf man, Edwin E. Robinson, had his vision and hearing restored after being struck by lightning. Robinson was once a truck driver, but as of the result of a highway accident in 1971, he was blind and partially deaf for 9 years. According to his story, while outside “clucking” for his pet chicken (it typically followed him around like a dog,) Robinson was knocked to the ground by lightning while sheltering beneath a poplar tree near his house. Poplar is the real name of the tree, in case you wondered, that’s not a typo of the word popular.

After the strike, Robinson was out cold for about 20 minutes after which, he came too and made it, with some difficulty, into the house and his bed where he took a nap. That evening upon waking, he could see again and could hear without his hearing aid.

Location note: Falmouth is in the area of Portland, Maine, not Portland, Oregon. Mr. Robinson was on the east coast, not the west coast in the USA.

UPI had a follow up story on this in 1984.

On June 9, 1980, Robinson was still blind and partially deaf, the result of injuries suffered in a 1971 truck accident. That day he walked into his yard during a thunderstorm to get a pet chicken out of the rain. As he stood under a tree, a lightning bolt knocked him to the ground and left him dazed. That night he began to see again and found he didn’t need his hearing aid anymore.

The incident was reported in a local newspaper and the couple became the center of a publicity firestorm. There were television appearances and the phone rang so much they took it off the hook to sleep.

A huge amount of publicity followed and film crews, some from as far away as Japan bombarded the couple with questions and requests for appearances. They eventually made a visit to New York to appear on ABC’s Good Morning America program.

Of the strike itself, Edwin said:

“It sounded like someone snapped a whip. The next thing I knew, I came to, face down in the water at the foot of the tree,” he recalled. His wife said he apparently was unconscious for 20 minutes. … weak and dehydrated, he return to his bedroom for a nap. “My legs were like rubber, my whole body felt like it was trembling,” he said. The lightning also broke his hearing aid.

“When I got up in the evening, I was sitting in the chair in the front room. I could see the plaque on the wall, and I could see the clock. But the clock kept fading in and out.” he said. His wife found him in his bedroom. ”I can see you! I can see you! I can see the house! I can read!” she quoted him as saying. She also said he was able to hear perfectly without his hearing aid.

Mr Robinson was examined by Dr. Willian F. Taylor who confirmed that he had regained both sight and hearing.

How did lightning restore Edwin Robinson’s vision?

Edwin Robinson’s is the only case of lightning healing the blind that we were able to find, so there isn’t much data. The different causes of blindness might offer a clue. The top five causes of blindness are Cataracts, Glaucoma, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy and Retinitis Pigmentosa. None of these apply, however, since the cause of Mr. Robinson’s blindness was sudden.

“He became blind as the result of a spectacular highway accident”


“the result of injuries suffered in a 1971 truck accident” – [Source]


In 1971, Edwin Robinson was in a terrible truck accident that left him blind and partly deaf. – [Source]


Truck driver Edwin Robinson had been blinded in a traumatic traffic accident in 1971 – [Source]

Given the reported media storm of questions, it is a bit surprising that no one lists this more specifically, yet medical privacy is important and it is understandable that these details were withheld. Given the lack of the specific cause of his blindness, it is not possible to say how lighting might done what it seems to have miraculously done.

Vision Restored by a Horse

According to RecordOnline there was a US Navy sailor named Don Karkos who was blinded in one eye during a German attack after shrapnel gashed his forehead in an explosion aboard a tanker in 1942. He miraculously recovered his vision after a horse named My Buddy Chimo headbutted his blind eye 64 years later.  One of the best horses ever, it did what doctors had failed to do for six decades. According to an article in the Scottsman, “Dr Douglas Lozzaro, the head of ophthalmology at Long Island College Hospital, said the blow could have knocked a dislocated lens into place.’

So, given that story, perhaps the lightning knocked something back into place for Edwin Robinson?

Miracle Removal of Previous Brain Damage?

The strike may have destroyed a previously damaged pathway in Mr. Robinson’s brain, a reasonable guess, since many people report life-long neurological damage and also memory loss after being struck by lightning. Of course, to most people, the details are unimportant. Just accept the miracle, right? Sure, but if doctors figure out exactly what happened, they might be able to use the information to create some new therapy to help other blind persons regain their sight. Past injuries have taught us a lot about how the visual pathway works.

The visual process is so tremendously complex. … It is not possible to anticipate all of the problems which may result, following a brain insult (such as a stroke or a trauma).  However, the array of possible problems may come to light by studying a quick overview of the Visual Pathways. (Source)

Congratulations to Mr. Edwin E. Robinson on having his sight restored by lighting. He is now 102 if he is still with us in the year 2020.

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