Managing diabetes-related hearing and vision loss
Of the 630,000 Australians living with diabetes, around half are at risk of vision loss or blindness because they’re not getting their eyes tested.
The good news is that the impact of vision and hearing loss can be reduced if it’s detected and treated early.
Diabetes has been associated with an increased risk of vision and hearing loss. In Australia, diabetes is the biggest cause of preventable blindness. Recent studies have shown people living with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer hearing loss than those without the condition.
The more severe the diabetes, the more significant the risk of permanent hearing and vision loss. Because diabetes is a condition that affects blood vessels all through the body, persistently high blood sugar levels can impact the small blood vessels in the eyes and inner ear.
Bupa Optometrist Karen Makin says conditions like diabetic retinopathy (which affects up to 35% of Australians living with diabetes) often give no visual symptoms or can be undetected as changes to eye sight happen slowly over time.
“Symptoms often don’t emerge until the later stages of the condition when people suffer vision loss,” says Makin. “The good news is that in many cases, serious vision loss can be prevented with regular eye examinations and early treatment.”
Bupa Audiologist Vijay Marimuthu says changes to hearing can also be sudden and symptoms can creep up slowly over time.
“Hearing is something people neglect, but the impact of hearing loss is profound,” he says.“Undiagnosed hearing loss can affect your overall sense of wellbeing. It can lead to isolation, loss of confidence, break down in relationships and depression.”
“The earlier the hearing loss is detected, the more effective the treatment,” says Marimuthu.
Treatment may be as simple as wearing a hearing aid.
When you’re diagnosed with diabetes it’s important to have an eye test and a hearing test. After that it’s recommended you have a check up once a year or as recommended by your optometrist or audiologist.
As well as regular checks, the best way to protect your vision and hearing is to ensure your diabetes is well managed.
Undiagnosed hearing loss can affect your overall sense of wellbeing. It can lead to isolation, loss of confidence, break down in relationships and depression