There seems to be a link between age related macular degeneration (ARMD) and hearing loss according to recent research.

Health care professionals should be aware of this association and consider appropriate inter-referrals when indicated.Macular Degeneration is an age related disease of the central retina that results in varying degrees of loss of vision. Although limited to the center of vision, the effect of the disease can be quite perfound and result in loss of one’s ability to read, drive, watch TV, and other daily living activities that we take for granted. In fact, age related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the number one cause of legal blindness in people over the age of 65!

Macular degeneration is the number one cause of legal blindness in adults over the age of 65 in the United States

Now a recent study suggests that there may be a link between age related hearing loss and age related macular degeneration. Researchers from Turkey found that in subjects with macular degeneration 50% had mild hearing loss, 20% had moderate hearing loss, and 6% had severe hearing loss. This is in comparison to age matched subjects without macular degeneration who were found to only have 35% with mild hearing loss, 5% with moderate hearing loss, and none with severe hearing loss. Interestingly, those with hearing loss and macular degeneration were more likely to have the “dry” form of ARMD vs. the “wet” form. Based on the results of this study the researchers suggested that all patients with ARMD should have hearing tests performed.

In the United States there are about 21 million people who are visually impaired and about 36 million people have some degree of hearing loss. Much more research is required to confirm this interesting association. Both eye doctors and hearing specialists should consider this association and be sure to mutually refer patients. The best insurance regarding your ongoing eye health and preservation of your vision is to have an annual comprehensive eye and vision examination.