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Eye Problems Found in Many Children with Hearing Loss

Routine ophthalmologic exams may be advisable in children with sensorineural hearing loss

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Routine ophthalmologic examinations may be helpful in supporting proper development in children with sensorineural hearing loss, according to research published in the February Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Arun Sharma, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed data from 226 children, aged 18 and under, with sensorineural hearing loss who underwent ophthalmologic examination.

The investigators found that 21.7 percent had an ophthalmologic abnormality; previous research had found a 14 percent prevalence of such abnormalities in elementary schoolchildren. Refractive errors were found in 23 children (10.2 percent), and non-refractive conditions in 29 children (12.8 percent). In 11 patients, researchers found a syndromic cause of sensorineural hearing loss, and of these, five patients had syndromes with associated ophthalmologic problems. No significant links were found between severity or laterality of sensorineural hearing loss and the prevalence of ophthalmologic problems, the report indicates.

"Children with sensorineural hearing loss are known to be at increased risk for delayed language, speech, cognitive and social development. Like hearing, vision plays a key role in gathering information from the environment. For that reason, it is important to ensure that visual function is optimized in children who have sensorineural hearing loss, especially in the first few years of life, during which there are many key developmental milestones," the authors write.

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