Common Causes of Combined Vision and Hearing Loss

Age-Related Hearing and Vision Loss

People age 55 and over with combined vision and hearing loss comprise the largest group of people who are deaf-blind in the United States. Yet, many of them remain unserved or underserved. Often, these adults don’t think of themselves as "deaf-blind."

The most common causes of vision loss in older adults are:

  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Diabetes/diabetic retinopathy

For people who have been sighted all of their lives, the impact of this loss can be profound. If a person also develops any degree of hearing loss, the results can be overwhelming.

Usher Syndrome

The most common genetic cause of deaf-blindness is Usher syndrome. Individuals with Usher experience hearing loss and have a progressive visual condition called retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which may first manifest itself as difficulty seeing at night or in poorly lit environments. Along with night blindness, RP also causes a loss of peripheral vision. There are three types of Usher syndrome, which manifest different levels of hearing loss.

Learn More About Usher Syndrome

Congenital Rubella Syndrome

Although eliminated in babies in the U.S., there is still a significant population of adults who are deaf and deaf-blind due to congenital rubella syndrome.

Learn More About Congenital Rubella Syndrome

CHARGE syndrome

CHARGE syndrome is a major genetic cause of deafness, visual impairment and many other physical and health related issues.

For more information, visit The Charge Syndrome Foundation.

Prematurity

More and more babies who are born prematurely are surviving. Some present with conditions that affect hearing and vision, including retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding eye disorder.

Norrie Disease

Norrie disease is a rare X-linked genetic disorder which causes males to be totally blind at birth or become blind in both eyes at a young age. Most males with Norrie disease also experience a hearing loss.  Norrie disease runs in families because it is passed down through one of the chromosomes that determines gender (X-chromosome).

For more information, visit the Norrie Disease Association.