For most of us, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like without functioning ears and eyes. For others, however, this loss is all too real. And unfortunately, it is estimated that by 2030, as many as 14 million older U.S. adults will develop this health issue, which is known as a dual sensory loss.
Dual sensory loss (DSL) can greatly reduce one’s quality of life. It affects physical, emotional and social functionality alike. After all, our senses connect us to the world around us. When we lose one, let alone two, that connection is weakened. But our goal as a practice is to help patients understand this health issue - as well as give you the tools and knowledge needed to prevent it.
Keep reading to learn more - and to see how we can help:
Why Does Our Hearing & Vision Clarity Decline? Am I at Risk?
DSL is an acquired condition, which gradually develops over time. Both hearing and vision can naturally decline due to aging. However, certain health issues can also contribute to this sensory loss.
For example, diabetes can contribute to diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss. Glaucoma, a primarily genetic eye illness, is another common source of vision loss. Additionally, a traumatic fall or accident can cause irreversible damage to the eye, making normal vision function impossible.
Our ears, on the other hand, are very prone to long-term damage due to exposure to noisy environments. And these days many of us wear earbuds and headphones, which only increase this risk further. But while certain illnesses and even some medications can also result in hearing loss, natural wear and tear is the main culprit for diminished hearing.
What are the Biggest Problems Associated with Dual Sensory Loss?
Any impairment in our ability to absorb information will lead to decreased levels of functioning. That impairment becomes an even greater problem when two senses fail to operate normally.
Specifically, research indicates those with both vision and hearing loss often have greater struggles with all of the following:
- Difficulty performing daily activities and visually-based tasks.
- Challenges with daily communication, both written and oral.
- An increased risk of social isolation, anxiety, and depression.
- A higher risk of falls and fall-related hospitalization.
Additionally, both vision and hearing loss as independent issues have been linked to poor cognitive function and even an increased risk of dementia. While research is ongoing and exploring these risks in greater detail, experts agree that a loss of these key senses at the same time is undertreated, poorly understood, and high risk.
What Should You Do To Stay Healthy?
Hearing better and seeing better is truly the key to living better. Because of this, you should talk to your hearing and eye doctors about the following:
- How your family history puts you at risk of certain chronic conditions that may affect your vision and hearing.
- Why annual diagnostic screenings are a healthy habit.
- Where they would place your current vision and hearing on a scale from poor to healthy.
- What actions you should take to improve or maintain the clarity of both senses moving forward.
Ready to start your overall health and wellness through better hearing? Not sure how to find an ear doctor in your area? We can help! Since 1949, Hearing Unlimited, Inc. has been helping people throughout Southwest Pennsylvania regain their hearing and escape the isolation that often comes with hearing loss. Contact us online or by phone today to schedule an appointment with us and take advantage of our services and resources!