Logo for the Journal of Rehab RandD

Volume 45 Number 4, 2008
   Pages 597 — 610

Abstract - Prevalence and characteristics of dual sensory impairment (hearing and vision) in a veteran population

Sherri L. Smith, PhD;* Loren W. Bennett, OD, MPH; Richard H. Wilson, PhD

James H. Quillen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mountain Home, TN; East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN

Abstract — With the increasing aging population, the number of veterans presenting with dual sensory impairment (DSI) (vision and hearing impairments) will increase. This study determined the prevalence and clinical characteristics of DSI in a veteran population receiving healthcare from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A retrospective review was conducted on 400 charts randomly selected from a database of 1,472 unique veterans enrolled in the audiology and optometry outpatient clinics during a 1-year period. Depending on definition criteria, hearing impairment prevalence was 41.6% to 74.6%, vision impairment/blindness prevalence was 7.4%, and DSI prevalence was 5.0% to 7.4%. The vision impairment/blindness prevalence governed the DSI prevalence. By age, DSI prevalence ranged from 0% (among veterans <65 years) to >20% (among veterans 85+ years). The complexities encountered in defining DSI are discussed and suggestions are made for determining standardized definitions. More research is needed to determine the unique characteristics of individuals with DSI and their impact on VA resources.

Key words: auditory impairment, dual sensory impairment, hearing impairment, hearing loss, legal blindness, prevalence, rehabilitation, veterans, vision impairment, vision loss.

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