Vision and Hearing Loss Go Hand-in-Hand in Older Adults

Study points to possibility of common risk factors between sensory impairments

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults with vision loss are more likely to be hearing impaired than adults without vision loss, according to a study published in the October issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology. The findings suggest that such sensory impairments may share common risk factors or biologic aging markers including exposure to oxidative stress, atherosclerosis or cigarette smoking.

Ee-Munn Chia, M.B.B.S., of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues found that hearing loss occurred in 65.2 percent of study participants who were visually impaired. The prevalence of hearing loss increased by 18 percent for each one-line reduction in best-corrected visual acuity and 13 percent for each one-line reduction in uncorrected vision.

Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration were both associated with hearing loss, the report indicates. The relationship was stronger among younger participants in the study and those with more severe hearing loss. Combined impairments were associated with poorer health-related quality of life than were single impairments.

"Further studies are needed to understand the relationship between visual and hearing impairments in older persons and to determine whether intervention to improve these impairments could delay biological aging," the study authors suggest.

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