I see it every day in my office, a patient with cataracts and decreased vision who also has difficulty with their hearing. It seems to me that a decline in vision goes hand in hand with a decline in hearing.
According to Lighthouse International:
Vision and hearing impairments are among the most common age-related conditions affecting the elderly. While there is an emerging literature regarding the profound functional, social, and physical and mental health consequences of either a vision or hearing impairment in later life, there is a dearth of existing knowledge regarding both short- and long-term consequences of dual sensory impairment for older persons. Yet, with the aging of the population, the numbers of older people experiencing a concurrent age-related loss in vision and hearing can be expected to grow substantially. Even current estimates of the prevalence of dual sensory impairments among the elderly range from 4% to 21%, depending upon used definitions and/or sources of data.
Here are some interesting statistics:
- Approximately 30 million Americans are hearing impaired.
- Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic condition behind arthritis and high blood pressure.
- 1 out of 4 people over the age of 65 has a hearing loss and 50% over the age of 75 have a hearing loss.
- You could be at risk if you work or spend a lot of time around noise without protecting your ears. Professions at risk may include: musicians, construction workers, military personnel, firefighters and police officers.
- Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors – the aging process, heredity, disease, noise and build-up of earwax, among others.
- Noise can be dangerous. If it is loud enough and lasts long enough, it can damage your hearing.
- If you experience a number of warning signs or if people often tell you that you’re not hearing well, you may have a hearing loss.
Some warning signs of hearing loss include:
- People seem to mumble more frequently.
- You experience ringing in your ears.
- You often ask people to repeat themselves.
- Your family complains that you play the TV or radio too loudly.
- You have been told that you speak too loudly.
- You have trouble understanding all of the words in a conversation.
A big topic of conversation at this years AAO meeting was the implementation of hearing evaluations in ophthalmology offices. Well, today at EyeCare 20/20 we have decided to do something with what we call Dual Sensory Impairment. As part of the annual eye exam in patients over 50, we will also do a brief hearing screening. We will than go over the results, and if a problem is detected, we will offer a free full hearing evaluation by a licensed Hearing Care Practitioner. We have also installed a full service BellTone hearing aid center in our office to deal with our patients hearing issues.
For more information on Dual Sensory Impairment at EyeCare 20/20, click here. Or, to take a hearing self test, click here.
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