Studies indicate that between 10 and 20 percent of people over 70 experience dual sensory loss – a condition that describes co-occurring hearing and vision impairment. While this condition may seem overwhelming, there are treatment options available for all associated symptoms.
What Causes Dual Sensory Impairment?
Dual sensory impairment has a variety of potential causes, including:
- Congenital conditions (present at birth)
- Natural part of aging process
- Usher’s syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Blast exposure
Instances of severe vision and hearing loss is also known as deaf-blindness.
Why Seek Treatment for Dual Sensory Loss?
Dual sensory loss has been associated with avoidance of social interactions, diminished quality of life and depression in older adults.
According to one study, “Dual sensory loss is poorly understood, under-recognized and under-diagnosed. 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).”
Fortunately, seeking treatment for dual sensory impairment has been shown to improve quality of life and lower risk of death.
How to Treat Dual Sensory Impairment
Most people with dual sensory impairment still have some degree of vision and hearing, and benefit greatly from rehabilitation. The first step in the rehabilitation process is to identify the cause of the impairment.
“When it comes to treatment, ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists are the experts,” explained Dr. Xiong of the Gigi & Carl Allen Envision Research Institute in Wichita, Kansas.
“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.
Preventing Dual Sensory Impairment
Unfortunately, when dual sensory loss is hereditary, there is not a lot that can be done to prevent the condition. However, there are some lifestyle modifications that can reduce your risk factor.
Smoking cessation, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can reduce the risk of eye disease, and the best way to prevent hearing loss is to wear hearing protection and avoid sound levels that are unsafe – that is, any sound over 85 dB, which is about the volume of highway traffic.
For more information about dual sensory loss, schedule an appointment with one of the experts at CENTA Medical Group today!