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Vision, Hearing Loss and Age

 

Older adults with vision loss are more likely to have hearing loss, and the opposite is true as well, according to researchers from Australia.

In the study, the relationship between impaired sight and impaired hearing was strongest among those under 70, suggesting that the two may be related to biological aging - meaning the "real age" of one's body based on genetic, environmental and lifestyle aging factors - rather than chronological age.

Dr. Ee-Munn Chia and colleagues at the University of Sydney also found that people with both hearing loss and vision loss reported worse quality of life than those with either type of sensory impairment alone.


The researchers looked at 2,000 men and women between 55 and 98 years of age. Roughly 9 percent of the men and women had vision loss and 40 percent had at least some hearing loss.


According to the investigators, visually impaired people were 60 percent more likely to have at least some moderate hearing loss, while hearing-impaired individuals were at a 50 percent increased risk of vision loss. The worse a person's vision loss, the greater his or her risk of hearing problems, and vice versa.

 

When the team looked specifically at the two most common causes of age-related vision impairment - cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - they found that both were independently associated with hearing loss.


Vision and hearing loss share a number of common risk factors, including aging, cigarette smoking, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and diabetes, the researchers note.

Further studies are needed to understand the relationship between visual and hearing impairments, they concluded. Because more adults are living longer, the burden associated with age-related hearing and vision impairments is likely to increase.

 

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Association between vision and hearing impairments and their combined effects on quality of life.

Ee-Munn Chia, Paul Mitchell, Elena Rochtchina, Suriya Foran, Maryanne Golding, Jie Jin Wang

Author Affiliations: Department of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney.

 

OBJECTIVES: To assess associations between age-related vision and hearing impairments and whether combined sensory losses magnify effects on health-related quality of life. METHODS: Seventy-five percent of survivors (n = 2334) were reexamined at Blue Mountains Eye Study 5-year examinations and 86.3% (2015) attended hearing assessments. Visual impairment was defined as visual acuity less than 20/40 (better eye), and hearing impairment as average pure-tone air conduction threshold greater than 25 dB (500-4000 Hz, better ear). RESULTS: Persons with visual impairment, compared with those without visual impairment, had lower mean audiometric thresholds across all frequencies (P</=.05). For each 1-line (5-letter) reduction in best-corrected visual acuity and presenting visual acuity, hearing loss prevalence increased by 18% and 13%, respectively. Cataract and age-related maculopathy were also associated with hearing loss (respectively, multivariate-adjusted odds ratio, 1.3 and 1.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-1.7 and 1.1-3.1). The association between age-related maculopathy and hearing loss was stronger at younger ages (<70 years). Combined impairments were associated with poorer health-related quality of life than were single impairments (multivariate-adjusted 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey mean physical and mental component scores; P(trend) = .001 and <.001, respectively).

 

CONCLUSIONS: Older persons with visual impairment were also more likely to have hearing loss in this study, which suggests that these sensory impairments could share common risk factors or biologic aging markers. Combined sensory impairments also cumulatively affect health-related quality of life.

 

Source: Arch Ophthalmol. 2006 Oct ;124 (10):1465-70 17030715 (P,S,G,E,B,D)

 

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Older adults with vision loss may be more likely to also have hearing loss, and the opposite appears true as well, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

 

In 1994, 18 percent of U.S. adults older than 70 reported impaired vision, 33 percent reported hearing problems and 9 percent reported both, according to background information in the article. Because more adults are living longer and the number of older adults is increasing, the burden associated with such age-related sensory impairments may be increasing.

 

Ee-munn chia, M.B.B.S., University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues examined the association between age-related hearing and vision loss in 1,911 adults who were part of the Blue Mountains Eye Study, which enrolled older adults from the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney. Five years after the original study, between 1997 and 1999, participants (then age 55 to 98, average age 69.8) underwent a medical interview along with vision and hearing examinations.

 

Among the participants, 178 (9.3 percent) had visual impairment (worse than 20/40 vision) without contacts or glasses and 56 (2.9 percent) had best-corrected visual impairment, meaning that their best vision while wearing glasses or contacts was worse than 20/40. In addition, 766 (40 percent) had hearing impairment, including 599 with mild impairment, 141 with moderate impairment and 26 with marked impairment. Hearing loss occurred in 116 patients (65.2 percent) of those who were visually impaired. For each additional line on the eye chart that an individual could not read, his or her odds of having hearing impairment increased by 18 percent if the reduction was in best-corrected vision or 13 percent in uncorrected vision. When the researchers looked specifically at the two most common causes of age-related vision impairment, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, they found that both were in dependently associated with hearing loss.

 

Contact: Paul Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D.

paul_mitchell@wmi.usyd.edu.au

JAMA and Archives Journals 9-Oct-2006

 

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ScienceDaily (Oct. 11, 2006) Older adults with vision loss may be more likely to also have hearing loss, and the opposite appears true as well, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

 

Vision And Hearing Loss Often Occur Together In Older Age

 

In 1994, 18 percent of U.S. adults older than 70 reported impaired vision, 33 percent reported hearing problems and 9 percent reported both, according to background information in the article. Because more adults are living longer and the number of older adults is increasing, the burden associated with such age-related sensory impairments may be increasing.

 

Ee-Munn Chia, M.B.B.S., University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues examined the association between age-related hearing and vision loss in 1,911 adults who were part of the

Blue Mountains Eye Study, which enrolled older adults from the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney. Five years after the original study, between 1997 and 1999, participants (then age 55 to 98, average age 69.8) underwent a medical interview along with vision and hearing examinations.

 

Among the participants, 178 (9.3 percent) had visual impairment (worse than 20/40 vision) without contacts or glasses and 56 (2.9 percent) had best-corrected visual impairment, meaning that their best vision while wearing glasses or contacts was worse than 20/40. In addition, 766 (40 percent) had hearing impairment, including 599 with mild impairment, 141 with moderate impairment and 26 with marked impairment. Hearing loss occurred in 116 patients (65.2 percent) of those who were visually impaired. For each additional line on the eye chart that an individual could not read, his or her odds of having hearing impairment increased by 18 percent if the reduction was in best-corrected vision or 13 percent in uncorrected vision. When the researchers looked specifically at the two most common causes of age-related vision impairment, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, they found that both were independently associated with hearing loss.

 

It is possible that both vision and hearing loss are regular consequences of aging, which could explain why they often occur in the same individual. In addition, common risk factors could predispose older adults to both conditions. "Each condition has been postulated to result from somewhat similar genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors," the authors write. "Exposure to oxidative stress [when cells receive too much oxygen], cigarette smoking and atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] and its risk factors have been linked respectively to age-related macular degeneration, cataract and hearing loss. Another common risk factor for cataract and visual and hearing impairments is diabetes."

 

"Irrespective of the cause of sensory impairment, these two impairments were found to have a cumulative effect on function and well-being, significantly affecting both physical and mental domains," they conclude. "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 biologic aging."

 

Adapted from materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

 

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