Taking Care of Your Vision and Hearing

Vision and hearing loss can increase your risk of falling

Our content is reviewed regularly by care professionals.
This page was last updated on 9 August 2022

Request Your Care Plan Assessment

For Families and Individuals Seeking Home Care Services

    It is normal for your hearing and vision to decrease with age. Vision loss can make it hard to see objects in front of you, making you more at risk of tripping over something. Decreased hearing can affect your balance, as it can lower your spatial awareness and you are less aware of your environment.

    How Ageing Affects Your Vision

    Your eyes change as you age, most people will experience performance issues especially at the age of 60 and above.

    Common Age-Related Vision Problems Include:
    • Presbyopia
    • Myopia
    • Cataracts
    • Dry eyes
    • Decreased colour vision
    • Loss of peripheral vision
    • Eye floaters
    • Macular degeneration

    Common vision problems that people can experience at any age is presbyopia ( the inability to focus on objects close up) and myopia ( the inability to see objects far away from you). Presbyopia usually becomes more noticeable in your 40’s and may continue to worsen as you age. Ageing can also cause loss of peripheral vision, meaning you can see less of the environment around you. People in their 80’s can have a peripheral vision loss of 20 to 30 degrees.

    More serious eyes problems include cataracts and glaucoma. Both these conditions can cause light to full blindness. Cataracts is when the lens in the front of your eye becomes cloudy, it can come in different levels of severity and can often be removed through surgery. Glaucoma is mostly related to high pressure in the eye, it can also be caused by injury to the eye or an eye infection. If it isn’t treated it can lead to permanent blindness.

    How Ageing Affects Your Hearing

    As we age certain frequencies may become harder to hear and some accents and tones of voices may become harder to understand. Age-related hearing loss is often caused by various changes going on in the inner ear.

    Age-Related Hearing Loss Can Be Caused By:
    • Damage to hair cells in the ear that transmit sound to the brain
    • Changes in blood flow to the ear
    • Changes in the structure of the inner ear
    • Long term exposure to loud noise
    • Health conditions such as diabetes
    • Smoking
    Signs of Age-Related Hearing Loss Includes:
    • People often sound like they are mumbling when talking
    • You are finding it difficult to hear people over the phone
    • People are telling you that your TV and music is often very loud
    • You struggle to talk to someone in a noisy room
    • You find yourself having to ask people to repeat themselves often
    • You struggle hearing high-pitched sounds
    • You can hear a ringing sound in your ears

    According to the NHS, the number of people living with hearing loss is rising. 42 percent of people aged 50 and over and 71 percent of people aged 70 and over are affected by hearing loss.

    How to Look After Your Eye Health

    There are things you can do yourself to help keep your eyes healthy.

    Healthy Eating

    Getting all the minerals and vitamins of a healthy balanced diet is great for your overall health. Eating well can decrease your risk of developing cataracts.

    Stop Smoking

    Smoking increases your risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

    Protect Your Eyes From Bright and Dim Light

    Wearing sunglasses with a UV filter can stop sunlight from damaging your eyes.

    Dim lighting can be just as damaging as strong, bright lighting. As you age you need more light to see clearly. Make sure your home is lit well enough especially in rooms such as the bathroom and on the stairs where you are more likely to fall.

    Straining your eyes in dim lighting can cause headaches, blurred vision and increase your sensitivity to light.

    Importance of Eye Tests

    It is important to get your eyes checked regularly as they can detect any eye health problems early and it means if you do wear glasses your prescription will always be the correct strength.

    Adults up to the age of 70 should have an eye exam at least once every two years. However, your optometrist may advise you to get them checked more often. It is advised that people 70 and older should get their eyes checked every year.

    An eye test can pick up eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts as well as other health problems including high blood pressure and diabetes.

    How to Improve Your Vision

    If you are experiencing short-sightedness or long-sightedness you can get glasses that will improve your vision. Glasses allow you to see better and move around safely. Laser eye surgery is also an option to improve your vision.

    For more serious eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma surgery is available to improve your vision or prevent any further loss of vision.

    How Hearing Can Affect Your Balance

    Problems with your hearing and your inner ear can lead to dizziness and balance problems. Two common causes of balance disorders are ear infections and blood circulation problems inside the ear.

    Hearing loss can also affect spatial awareness, which is the awareness someone has of the objects around them. This can make you more likely to fall over objects.

    How to Look After Your Ear Health

    Hearing loss is not completely preventable however there are ways you can reduce your chance of developing ear-related problems.

    Take Care of Your Ear Health By:
    • Avoiding loud noises
    • Don’t have your TV or music too loud
    • Wear earplugs at loud events
    • Go for regular hearing tests
    • Keep your ears dry
    • Stop smoking

    Loud noises can damage the hair cells inside the ear that transmit sounds to the brain, causing hearing loss. Excess moisture and water in the ears can lead to ear infections.

    Smoking is linked to hearing loss. It can lower the oxygen blood levels in the ears which causes damage to the inner ear hair cell health.  Smoking can also cause numerous offer issues that interfere with your ability to hear.

    Importance of Hearing Tests

    The earlier you catch hearing loss the earlier you can do something about it. It is a good idea to go for a hearing test once a year when aged 60 or over also if you work in an environment where you are often around loud noise.

    Hearing loss can happen slowly over time and can go undiagnosed for years. By having yearly hearing tests, you can catch hearing loss early.

    How to Improve Your Hearing

    There are medications and aids that can help with hearing loss. Hearing loss common with ageing is often treated with hearing aids or implants.

    Hearing aids can make sounds louder and clearer whilst wearing them, they can not reverse hearing loss.

    Hearing implants are special devices fitted to the skull. Hearing implants are good for people with severe to permanent hearing loss.

    Sign language and lip reading can be used to communicate when you struggle with hearing.