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EyeHear 20/20: Hearing Loss Is A Dangerous Sensory Handicap

January 26, 2012

Several of our senses, including hearing and eyesight, decline in senior years.

As we become older, certain aspects of our life will slowly begin to change right before our eyes. Tasks that once came naturally to us, such as constantly running up and down the stairs or going for a jog around the neighborhood, will slowly begin to become more difficult, and sometimes have to be abandoned all together. And while there are many exciting things that happen during our “golden years”―retirement, watching our children and grandchildren grow up, heading on long-awaited vacations―some of these side effects of the aging process don’t always seem so golden.

Here at OCLI, we often see some of the side effects of aging first hand through our patients who develop cataracts or age-related macular degeneration. And while both of these vision problems are very significant to our day-to-day lives, it is important to note that these are not the only changes to our bodies that will happen as we begin to age. One other important sense, in addition to our eyesight, that is significantly affected by the aging process is our hearing.

Whether you are someone who relies on their hearing for their career, or simply enjoy the sounds of the crisp world outside, it can be very upsetting when you get older and the sounds around you begin to slowly fade. You find yourself constantly reaching for the remote control, or asking people to repeat themselves over and over again. Eventually, many people start shutting themselves off from the outside world all together because their hearing becomes such a burden to them.

However, many people do not often understand the reasons behind their hearing problems, nor that they have the ability to improve their hearing, even in their senior years. Because hearing is a disability that is currently untreated in about 85% of those people who are affected, it may just be the nation’s most damaging and costly sensory handicap. Plus, because it is a hidden disability, it is often not obvious to others or even to those who have it.

Poor hearing can not only lead to frustrations and problems in our social and personal lives, but it has also recently been linked to dementia and cognitive dysfunction in older adults with hearing difficulties. A study conducted by Dr. Frank R. Lin, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and his colleagues there and at the National Institute on Aging showed that for each 10-decibel loss in hearing, the risk of dementia rose about 20 percent among the participants in the study.

Compared with those who could hear normally when first examined, the risk of dementia doubled among those with mild hearing loss, tripled among those with moderate hearing loss and increased fivefold among those with severe hearing loss.

Because hearing is such a significant part of our lives, along with healthy eyes and vision, and a key factor to healthy, happy senior years, we here at OCLI are proud to offer a new line of service which will help our patients with hearing difficulties and fading hearing.

When a person is hard of hearing, they often have to resort to reading lips. So, when our hearing starts to diminish as well as our vision, our quality of life is compromised. It is because of the strong connection between vision and hearing that our practice is pleased to announce our expanded hearing services for our patients. Call or email our Hearing Counselors and schedule your complimentary Hearing Evaluation today and make for healthier, happier golden years.


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