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Vision loss

Vision loss, hearing loss appear to have common cause

Thursday, October 12, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: vision loss, aging, hearing loss

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(NewsTarget) New research suggests that as we age, vision and hearing loss tend to progress together at the same rate.

Australian scientists examined about 2,000 people with an average age of 70 and concluded that the people who had vision problems were more likely to suffer from hearing impairments, and vice versa.

Having sensory impairment in a dual fashion such as vision and hearing loss is something most people experience in their old age. Among the study's participants in Australia, 178 had a visual impairment -- categorized as eyesight worse than 20/40 -- and a further 56 of the study subjects had "best-corrected" visual impairment, meaning even when using glasses or contact lenses their eyesight was worse than 20/40. In addition, 206 people, or 88 percent, of this combined group also had a hearing problem.

Research suggested that those in the hearing loss group were also 1.5 times more likely to have eyesight problems than those with good hearing. Findings from the Journal Archives of Ophthalmology -- in which the study results were published -- also stated that underlying causes of both sensory impairments may be the same.

In addition to finding a strong correlation between associated hearing and vision loss, the researchers also found that both those suffering age-related macular degeneration and cataracts were more likely to suffer hearing loss than those without these disorders. The researchers went on to emphasize that the connection between vision and hearing could be explained by the fact that both are direct results of normal aging.

But, the researchers also suggested that common risk factors can predispose people to these sensory impairments, explaining that "Exposure to oxidative stress, cigarette smoking and atherosclerosis and its risk factors have been linked respectively to age-related macular degeneration, cataract and hearing loss."

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