The Hearing Impaired Have Better Vision

People who are deaf and the hearing impaired that wear hearing aids such as a phonak ambra, have better vision, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have found that the retina in the eye holds the key to improved foresight because the retina in those who have a hearing problem develop differently.

The investigation, which was funded by The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), suggests that the retina of adults who are either born deaf or have an onset of deafness within the very first years of life actually develops differently to hearing adults. This is due to the fact that it must be able to capture more peripheral visual information.

Published in the journal PlosONE, the research dubbed “Visual Advantage in Deaf Adults Linked to Retinal Changes”, used retinal imaging data and correlated this with measures of peripheral vision sensitivity. It showed that retinal neurones in deaf people appear distributed differently around the retina to enable them to capture more peripheral visual information.

It means that in deaf people the retinal neurones prioritise the temporal peripheral visual field which is what a person can see in their furthest peripheral vision, i.e. towards your ears.

The team was led by Dr Charlotte Codina and Dr David Buckley from the University’s Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics; and all adults involved in the study were either severely/profoundly deaf or hearing.

Dr Charlotte Codina said: “The retina has been highly doubted previously as being able to change to this degree, so these results which show an adaptation to the retina in the deaf really challenge previous thinking.

“This is the first time the retina has been considered as a possibility for the visual advantage in deaf people, so the findings have implications for the way in which we understand the retina to work. Our hope is that as we understand the retina and vision of deaf people better, we can improve visual care for deaf people, the sense which is so profoundly important to them.”

Dr Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research at RNID – Action on Hearing loss, said: “The better peripheral vision experienced by people who are deaf, in comparison to those who hear, has significant benefits for their everyday lives – including the ability to quickly spot hazards at the boundaries of their view.

“This research substantially improves our understanding of how changes in the retina create this advantage, and could help researchers identify ways to further enhance this essential sense for people who are born deaf.”

So if you wear a hearing aid, such as an oticon agil, then you may possible have better eyesight than those who can hear!

Tags: ,