Level 5 Diploma 4/1/13
Identify methods for raising awareness of sensory loss:
A working description of deafblindness that has been accepted over many years, is that persons are regarded as deafblind if their combined sight and hearing impairment cause difficulties with communication. It can be found in all age groups including children but the greatest is in older people. *
Having a sight and hearing loss sometimes called dual sensory impaired leads to difficulties in communicating, mobility and impaired people. *
Deaf blindness can be due to several causes, such as Ushers Syndrome, Rubella (German measles) and problems caused by premature births.
Deafblind UK report that there are about 24,000 people in the UK who are deaf blind; some are totally deaf and totally blind, other deaf blind people have some hearing and vision. These figures do not take into account the large number of older people who are losing both their sight and hearing. So the number of people with a combined sight and hearing loss could well be as high as 250,000. There is a lack of awareness of the needs of people with dual sensory loss among the general public, but also within the medical profession and among public service providers. There appears to be no primary method of communication for deafblind people. Therefore services need to be tailored to the communication need of the individual.
“Up to 50% of sight loss can be avoided if detected early enough” (RNIB & Age UK)
Five common causes of sight loss are:
* Age related macular degeneration / ARMD and AMD central vision while side vision remains, Most common sight loss in the UK, AMD occurs when the delicate cells of the macula become damaged and stop working. Wet AMD which can happen quickly but can respond to treatment if caught in early stages, Dry AMD which develops slowly and causes gradual loss of central vision can not be medically treated.
* Diabetic retinopathy / Can affect the eye in several ways. Most serious are the changes it causes to the retinal blood vessels known as diabetic retinopathy. This happens when diabetes causes the blood vessels in the eye to bulge, leak fluid and blood. This can have a serious affect on vision if left untreated,
* Glaucoma / This covers a group of conditions where the optic nerve is damaged at the point where it leaves the eye. This can cause what they call tunnel vision which may not be noticed until considerable damage to the person’s side vision has been done. In some the damage is caused by raised eye pressure, this occurs when the aqueous fluid doesn’t drain away properly. Also by a weakness in the optic nerve. Glaucoma can be treated medically using eye drops, drugs and laser treatment or operations, although any damage already caused cant be repaired,
* Cataract / Very common especially in the over 60s, Age related cataract is most common worldwild. Cataract symptoms include blurry or cloudy sight, dazzeled by light and fading colour vision. Its not a layer of skin that grows over the eye but a cloudy lens which can be replaced with a plastic lens called an intraocular lens implant.
* Refractive error / Refractive errors are short sightendness (myopia), long sightendness (hypermetropia) and presbyopia need for reading glasses. Can be corrected using spectacles or contact lens.
It is possible to have more that one condition and for it to be more or less severe. Getting older is one of the biggest risk factors for developing eye conditions which cause sight loss. Some older people will just put any of these conditions down to old age and not do anything about them but regular eye tests are the best way to detect any of the eye conditions. Over 60’s receive a free eye test on the NHS and can get support with the cost of glasses if they receive the Guarantee part of Pension Credit. Another cause of sight loss is...
References: RNIB and Age UK Booklet “Seeing it from their side” [2011 September)
Sense for deafblind people, “The elderly” http://www.sense.org.uk First published Mon 2nd July Updated 22nd march
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