In A Nutshell
Despite the old adage “blind as a bat,” it turns out that absolutely every bat on the Earth has eyes, and can see better at night than humans. Sure, they use echolocation, but it’s simply to augment their vision, not take its place.
The Whole Bushel
If you went out and asked 10 people whether or not bats have eyes and can see, probably nine would tell you that they don’t, and they can’t. As it turns out though, literally every bat on Earth has eyes and the ability to see, flying in the face of the common misconception.
Bats are famous for their use of echolocation to “see” their way around, kind of like the comic book character Daredevil, but they don’t actually need to rely on it. It just heightens their ability to see what’s going on in addition to their eyesight. Many bats’ eyes are so tiny that we can barely see them (and no one’s going to peer really closely at a bat, because why would you?). The fact that their eyes are hard to see might have something to do with the idea that they just don’t have good vision.
Interestingly, bats will even rely on their eyes over their echolocation results. In some studies, they have flown directly into a window through which light is shining, ignoring the echolocation telling it that the path was not all clear.
In fact, it turns out that bats see a heck of a lot better than humans do in the dark, which should only help terrify you the next time you see one swooping around the trees outside your house at night.