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Eye Can Hear! Dual Sensory Impairment & OCLI…

November 11, 2010

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 emerging literature regarding the profound functional, social, 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 number 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 have 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 year's AAO meeting was the implementation of hearing evaluations in ophthalmology offices.  Well, today at OCLI 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 then 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 Bell Tone hearing aid center in our office to deal with our patients hearing issues.

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