Your vision and hearing are linked in ways you may not suspect. Both of these senses are processed by your brain to allow a global perception of your environment. The eyes and ears are physically linked by nerve pathways responsible for vestibulo-ocular reflex or VOR. This reflex connects the inner ear to the muscles responsible for the movements of your eyes, the combination of these two senses allows you to be aware of your environment and to properly situate yourself in your surroundings as you go about daily activities.  

But what if your hearing or vision is not as sharp as it used to be? How will that affect you? While they work together, luckily, our bodies can adapt to let one compensate for the other if one sense becomes less acute. In fact, you may have noticed how in the evenings when it is dark, you become more attentive to what you hear. Our bodies are quite amazing that way! 

For people who are hearing impaired, relying on their sense of sight is important. They can read lips and use sign language to communicate. In the case of visually impaired people, without the support of images in their environment, it becomes more difficult to keep their balance, avoid obstacles and in general, go about their daily activities. This is where the hearing system steps up, becoming an essential tool for getting around thanks to our spatial response to sound and the inner ear which is responsible for balance.

Over time as we age, it is not unusual that our hearing or vision can become less reliable. 

You may not notice changes to your hearing, but your family and friends surely will. As you start to lose your hearing you may speak louder, increase the volume of the television and ask people you are speaking with to repeat what they’ve said. Hearing loss in the elderly can lead to loneliness and social isolation, which are factors that can lead to depression and sometimes even dementia. Not understanding those around you can be alienating. If you have trouble hearing or you have a loved one whom you’ve noticed is having difficulty following conversations, hearing may be the issue. A hearing aid may be the solution and it may help you or them lead a healthier life. 

We are usually the first to notice changes in our vision. Road signs are not as clear, you need the fonts on your digital screens to be enlarged, and so you realize that it’s time for your annual eye check-up. It may be just a matter of adjusting your prescription. But, in some cases, conditions like age-related macular degenerationglaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or other issues may be affecting your eyesight and require a proper diagnosis by your optometrist. Early detection is so important and so are yearly eye exams.

To have your eyes checked, contact your local IRIS to book your appointment.