Information for Patients
Hearing Disorders and Deafness
It's frustrating to be unable to hear well enough to enjoy talking with friends or family. Hearing disorders make it hard, but not impossible, to hear. They can often be helped. Deafness can keep you from hearing sound at all.
What causes hearing loss? Some possibilities are
- Diseases such as ear infections and meningitis
- Certain medicines
- Long-term exposure to loud noise
There are two main types of hearing loss. One happens when your inner ear or auditory nerve is damaged. This type is usually permanent. The other kind happens when sound waves cannot reach your inner ear. Earwax build-up, fluid, or a punctured eardrum can cause it. Treatment or surgery can often reverse this kind of hearing loss.
Untreated, hearing problems can get worse. If you have trouble hearing, you can get help. Possible treatments include hearing aids, cochlear implants, special training, certain medicines, and surgery.
NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Vision Impairment and Blindness
If you have low vision, eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery may not help. Activities like reading, shopping, cooking, writing, and watching TV may be hard to do. The leading causes of low vision and blindness in the United States are age-related eye diseases: macular degeneration, cataract and glaucoma. Other eye disorders, eye injuries, and birth defects can also cause vision loss.
Whatever the cause, lost vision cannot be restored. It can, however, be managed. A loss of vision means that you may have to reorganize your life and learn new ways of doing things. If you have some vision, visual aids such as special glasses and large print books can make life easier. There are also devices to help those with no vision, like text-reading software and braille books.
The sooner vision loss or eye disease is found and treated, the greater your chances of keeping your remaining vision. You should have regular comprehensive eye exams by an eye care professional.
NIH: National Eye Institute