During the last 10 years, I have had the privilege to help many people improve their hearing. In the initial hearing evaluation, I often hear many of the same questions from different patients. One common question is whether or not hearing loss and vision loss are related. For example, the patient might say, “I’ve noticed my vision getting worse. I also notice that I can’t hear my son as well when I can’t see him. What’s actually the problem here – my eyes or my ears?”
Vision and Hearing ARE Connected
The patient’s question makes perfect sense because these two bodily senses ARE actually inter-connected. Whether we realize it or not, we all use visual cues, such as lip reading or body language, to help us with our hearing. If we can’t quite hear something accurately, our vision helps to fill in what’s missing. If one’s visual acuity decreases, the ability to pick up on subtle facial cues and body language also decreases. This then results in more difficulty understanding what is spoken.
In order for us to hear best during a conversation, we should be in clear view of a person’s face AND be within 3 to 8 feet of them. That’s when lip reading can be the most accurate. The basic cues picked up through lip reading or interpreting other body language help to supplement what our ears hear.
Now, let’s go back to our patient’s question. We typically find that they’ve had hearing loss for quite some time. But, it becomes more noticeable as their vision decreases and is less able to fill in the communication gaps. To them, it might seem that their hearing loss is worse when in fact, it’s a combination of hearing AND vision deterioration.
Don’t Let Hearing Loss Go Untreated
If you have hearing loss, early diagnosis and treatment are very important. The earlier you seek hearing loss treatment, the better your brain will be protected and the easier it will be to communicate even if your vision also decreases. If you notice any hearing changes, schedule an appointment with a hearing health care professional as soon as possible for a thorough hearing evaluation. Then, you can be on the road to better hearing with appropriate hearing treatment.