Sight or hearing loss can occur at any time but particularly as people get older. However, some people may experience a loss to both senses, which is termed, dual sensory loss.
Individuals with dual sensory loss are greatly disadvantaged because they cannot compensate for hearing or sight loss with a sense that remains fully functional. In addition, the loss of each sense compounds difficulties associated with the other. For example, hearing loss is compounded by an inability to lip read or see facial expression. Isolation is a very real risk for people with dual sensory loss.
It is important to look after our sight and hearing as most sensory loss can be avoided, or stabilised, if problems are detected early enough. Sight checks every 2 years are recommended for adults, though these should be more frequent if individuals have a family history of sight loss, or a medical condition which can lead to vision problems. Regular hearing checks are recommended for people over the age of 40.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for a decade to pass from the time someone first notices hearing difficulties until they get their hearing tested. This delay can have a detrimental impact on the effectiveness of hearing aids. Ideally hearing aids should be fitted as soon as possible after hearing loss occurs so that the brain does not need to re-learn sounds which have not been heard for many years. Different types of hearing aids help people who are not profoundly deaf to experience improved hearing, but they do not restore hearing to the level of natural sound experienced before hearing loss.
Support is available to Islanders with sight, hearing, or dual sensory loss and both the Audiology Department and EYECAN are aware of, and responsive to, the challenges of dual sensory loss.
The Audiology Department, or your private audiologist, can advise on hearing aids and technology to support your communication needs, whilst EYECAN can match you to technology to support communication, and provide social opportunity at Westlea Centre, where a loop system amplifies sound for hearing aid users.