Connecting Dots Between Hearing Loss and Sight

The other night at a local restaurant I was seated around a table with six other people. I’ve been to this place before. There’s always background music and the noise of dozens of voices, drowning out any hope of hearing. My mighty mini mic surfaced and I got through the evening without having to ask people seated on either side of me to repeat.

During the drive home, my husband asked if I had had a good time. I told him yes and shared, “For some strange reason, I think I’m hearing better.”

“Maybe it’s because you can see better,” he said.

I thought he was joking. Recently I had cataracts removed from each eye. To replace my natural aged lenses, my ophthalmologist inserted brand new trifocal lenses. The change was remarkable. For the first time since age twelve, I can see without glasses. At my postoperative checkup, I was told I had close to 20/20 vision in both eyes and with more healing, my vision would soon be perfect. I’ve noticed the changes. I’m no longer manipulating the newspaper in the morning. I can sit comfortably holding my laptop or IPad, reading and typing, without a seeing issue. My new sight has been nothing short of a miracle.

Given the change in my sight, my husband’s comment got me thinking. Is there a connection between seeing and hearing? I googled the question. Up came dozens of internet sites explaining research findings in education, medicine, and social sciences, exploring this fact. Ramifications are far reaching as the link between sight and hearing has roots in how we learn languages, speak and experience life. Our senses seem to work together.

Evidence of this link is shown in human behavior. In observing someone, you may know someone is upset long before they vocalize their distress. We realize by their facial expressions and body language that something is terribly wrong. If we see someone lying on the ground in the supermarket parking lot, we know they need help without being asked. Studies show children and adults learn foreign languages faster by viewing pictures and listening to corresponding words describing the scene. When binging on a favorite Netflix program, some people naturally block the voices and other environmental sounds around them. Is this selective hearing? Or are their brains so engrossed in the visual their hearing shuts down?

Most studies done in this area showed an association between sight and hearing but concluded more research is needed. However, it stands to reason that we need both the sense of sight and sound to navigate in this world. Each plays a role in centering us to time and place, allowing us to communicate and express. If these ideas interest you, research them for yourself. Talk to your doctor and audiologist. I believe those suffering from hearing loss should do everything they can to help themselves hear.