As we age, it’s not uncommon to experience decline in both hearing and vision abilities. In fact, studies show that 10-20 percent of people over the age of 70 have a condition called dual sensory hearing loss – a condition characterized by both hearing and vision loss. This condition can be caused by genetic factors that are present at birth or occur later in life due to the natural aging process.
Why Seek Treatment for Duel Sensory Impairment?
Untreated hearing loss has been linked to a number of negative health conditions, including social withdrawal, increased falls/imbalance, depression and cognitive decline.
“Dual sensory loss is poorly understood, under-recognized and under-diagnosed,” reported the authors of a 2014 study on dual sensory impairment. “This is particularly the case in its mild form since it may be undetected by the individual, or onset may initially be in one domain at a time (vision or hearing deterioration).”
Because of the significant impact dual sensory impairment has on other aspects of one’s health, it is very important to seek treatment for both hearing and vision loss. The first step is to see an audiologist and an ophthalmologist for a diagnosis and to determine the cause; the second step is to receive the appropriate treatment.
The good news is that studies show people who seek treatment for their dual sensory impairment have a greater quality of life and lower risk of death than those who don’t.
Treatment Options for Dual Sensory Impairment
“Rehabilitation therapists can help with adaptation and accommodation after sensory loss,” explained Dr. Ying-Zi Xiong, fellow at the Gigi & Carl Allen Envision Research Institute in Wichita, KS. “They will prescribe assistive devices and teach coping strategies, which will make everyday tasks and communications much easier.”
“Although treatment might not necessarily cure the vision and hearing conditions, they can often slow down deterioration, stabilize the condition and relieve discomforts. Maintaining the use of residual vision and hearing is a great exercise for the brain and with time we become more and more efficient in using the visual and auditory information,” she continued.
While hearing and vision loss can be difficult to manage, there are many options available for treatment. Schedule an appointment today with PDX ENT.