Both are very important senses, and both cause us great difficulties if they don’t work effectively. But due to the way we use them, their loss affects us in different ways.
When you go to an optician, you look at a letter chart. If you have a loss of vision, you may not be able to read the lower lines of smaller letters, because they become blurry. Your eyes can’t focus on them. Another good way to understand it is to think of aging. Our eyes gradually lose their ability to focus up, so all nearby objects become blurry. All of the activities that require you to focus on something close to you – like reading – become more difficult. This loss of sensitivity to nearby objects does not vary; it is uniform.
Our ears gradually lose the ability to hear high frequencies, both through damage and aging. However, in contrast to vision loss, the actual effects of this are not uniform. Speech is made up of many different frequencies and tones. If we can’t hear high pitched sounds, we find it hard to understand specific letters such as f, s and t. This is because they contain high frequencies. Such letters can also be drowned out by louder, low-pitched vowels like a, o and u. In contrast to vision loss, the loss of hearing sensitivity affects different parts of speech that are scattered throughout the conversation.
To understand speech, we need to get the whole picture
People with hearing loss can often hear that other people are talking, but cannot make out what they are saying. They can hear, but their ability to listen and communicate with other people is curtailed. Effective treatment is not just about amplifying all sound. It is about boosting the specific parts that the sufferer can’t hear well, such as particular tones or frequencies. That is why it’s vital that they get a proper hearing assessment from a hearing care expert.
Vision aids or hearing aids?
When people have difficulty seeing, it’s common to put glasses on. These vision aids can help with many things; they can be designed specifically for particular uses such as working on a computer screen or reading. These days, it’s very common to see glasses on all sorts of people and they are often a stylish item, with top fashion houses designing frames. However, even though modern hearing aid designs are discreet and stylish – and come in a range of subtle colours – many people avoid going to a hearing care expert to get hearing aids. For many reasons such as misplaced pride or embarrassment, it takes people with hearing loss an average of eight years to actually get treatment.
Similarities between hearing loss and vision loss There are clear differences between hearing loss and vision loss. But there are many similarities too:
- They can both be treated by healthcare professionals
- There are stylish and unobtrusive treatments
- Treatment helps the sufferer to continue living a rich life in many ways
- Neglecting to treat either has significant consequences such as tiredness, mental decline and social isolation