Hypertension and Your Eyes
Hypertension is a medical condition where the blood pressure in the arteries is abnormally elevated. It can, if left untreated, become a major risk factor to your overall health. Hypertension can also affect your eyes and sight. High blood pressure, as it is often referred to, can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, affecting the back of the eye where an image is focused. This disease is called hypertensive retinopathy.
Unfortunately, signs of hypertensive retinopathy only manifest themselves late in the disease. Some symptoms include double or cloudy vision, headaches and if very advanced, loss of vision. Did you know that your optometrist may be able to detect hypertension through an eye exam? If your eyes are showing early signs of the disease, your optometrist will be able to refer you to a health professional for diagnosis.
If you have recently been diagnosed with hypertension, it is crucial that you visit your optometrist and advise them of your condition. Your eye doctor will then be able to provide the best care for your eyes. It will also be important to visit your optometrist yearly in order to monitor any changes to your eyes.
Genetic factors do play a role in your risk for this disease and luckily there are medications available to stabilize your blood pressure, but there are also some lifestyle changes that you can follow in order to reduce these risks altogether. Here are a few tips:
1. Exercise regularly
2. Quit smoking
3. Limit your alcohol intake
4. Reduce your stress level
5. Eat a healthy diet.
To help you reduce your risks of hypertension, we recommend a diet filled with fruits and veggies as well as proteins such as salmon and chicken. It is important to significantly reduce the amount of salt and fat in your diet and to eliminate your intake of processed foods. Here are a few recipes that are not only delicious but healthy for your eyes and your overall health:
In the last Connections I shared an article about a presentation I attended by HearingLife on the impacts of hearing loss on seniors and the need to have regular hearing check-ups after reaching the age of 60. HearingLife is one of BCRTA’s Advantage Partners and offers BCRTA members savings on hearing-aids.
What I didn’t mention was that my wife and I often complain to each other that we can’t hear what the other is saying and we frequently ask one another to repeat things. Even worse are the miscommunications about events and happenings. Occasionally one of us says in exasperation, “I TOLD YOU ABOUT THAT LAST WEEK, YOU NEVER HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!!”
I reflected on this after the Hearing Life presentation. After some discussion, my wife and I decided we would give HearingLife a try by getting our hearing tested.
Now I want you to know that I have never before entertained doing this because over the years I had a nasty suspicion that I was going to be told that I needed hearing-aids whether I was suffering hearing loss or not.
So off we tootled to the HearingLife office nearest to us in Penticton. It was easy and convenient to schedule the appointments. My wife had her test first, followed by me. The tests took about half an hour for each of us and then we had a combined consultation for about fifteen to twenty minutes.
The consultant who did the testing was an amazing person who took the time to discuss how the ear works and the causes of routine hearing loss. She had a professionally-equipped audiometric booth and a thorough testing process. The friendly manner of the testing and consult was greatly appreciated.
What was amazing to the technician and to me and my wife was that the results of our tests provided almost 100% identical hearing profiles. That is apparently quite unusual. What surprised me even more were the affirming words from the consultant—she told us that we have amazingly good hearing for our age (I am seventy and my wife is sixty-nine). She indicated that because our hearing is so good that we don’t need to worry about another test for two or three years.
When we asked her about our concerns regarding not hearing each other she asked us how long we have been married. We said forty-two years. She replied that the answer was easy – there is what she calls the “Marriage Syndrome” that after a long marriage, often hearing is not a problem. What is a problem is “listening”!
Her advice was not to go around shouting at each other but when communication is essential to take the time to sit down, face each other, snap our fingers and say, “Are you listening to me?” Then we will be set to get the information across. For me, at least, this is good advice because my attention span is becoming increasingly shorter as our marriage continues to grow in numbers!
So… have you had your hearing tested?
BCRTA Well-Being Committee Chair
Editor’s Note: BCRTA Members always receive a 10% discount off HearingLife standard pricing. Other discount offers are made from time to time, and HearingLife offers price matching for equivalent devices. To learn more contact HearingLife for details and let them know you are a BCRTA member.
On Dec. 3, 2019, the Well-Being Committee received an excellent presentation from Sally Thompson who is National Director of Affinity Development with Hearing Life, one the BCRTA’s Advantage Program partners. Her presentation was not so much about purchasing hearing aids, expensive or not, but on the importance of hearing health being part of our overall health profile. Starting at age 60 hearing acuity often declines. In fact, 47% of those who are of age 60 suffer some hearing loss. In addition to the inconvenience of not being able to follow a conversation or hear the TV, hearing loss also has an impact on both the functioning of the auditory processing of the brain and the overall health of the senior. The longer the hearing impairment is left untreated the greater the likelihood of significant long-term damage to the brain and serious health deficits for the individual.
Age, Illness, and Even Medications Can Affect Your Hearing
The use of some medications can impact the hearing nerves in the brain. For example, long term use of Aspirin or common antibiotics ending in “cin” can damage the auditory nerve. Your doctor should be able to advise you on appropriate use to minimize damaging effects of these medications. That is why it is important for hearing testing to be a regular part of your health regimen at the age of 60. There are many causes of hearing loss, some of which can be treated without having to resort to hearing aids. Hearing testing is a cost-free service with Hearing Life. You do not require a medical referral for a hearing test, you can simply call 1.855.749.7743 or visit the online booking page on their website. Mention you are a member of BCRTA and Hearing Life will schedule you into a clinic convenient to you.
What to Expect
The hearing test process, regardless of the provider, should emphasize diagnosis first and not the purchase of devices. Included should be a discussion of your medical history, the results of Otoscopy, Tympanometry, Air/Bone Conduction, and speech understanding assessment. Ms. Thompson gave an explanation of some “advantages” her network offers to BCRTA members. The free hearing test determines the nature of the hearing loss and what sort of remedies are available (not always a hearing aid). Free trials of various devices help patients find the right one.
The Cost of Hearing Aids
A common concern is the cost of hearing aids. Thompson pointed out that devices have different price points, but the primary concern should be selecting the device that best addresses your needs. As I write this, Hearing Life is offering BCRTA members a 25% discount off the price of hearing aids, plus the special 10% discount that BCRTA members always receive. Hearing Life sometimes has a reputation of being expensive, but Thompson pointed out that they have a price-matching guarantee. Those who find the one-time cost of purchasing a device should consider that financing is available. Both Green Shield and Johnson EHC plans also have some coverage for hearing aids – check your plan. When you need a hearing aid, the final cost per day is small compared to the health benefits. According to Thompson, in addition to requiring a professional certification , all Hearing Life centers abide by a code of conduct that emphasizes honest and accurate hearing assessment and appropriate treatment planning. You should never receive a “pitch” from any hearing provider to buy something you don’t need.
Ms. Thompson concluded that hearing aids do not cure hearing loss but work to stabilize speech understanding capabilities in neuro-sensory cases. Successful treatment relies on a positive attitude, willingness to learn, practice, patience and commitment of the client to persevere in the acclimatization process of adapting to hearing aids. Most importantly, addressing hearing loss concerns does contribute to a longer, sustainable, and healthy lifestyle for seniors.
After her presentation I felt very reassured that we as BCRTA members have an Advantage Partner that can offer retired teachers a valuable and cost-effective way of treating hearing loss.
Chair, Well-Being Committee
BC Retired Teachers’ Association
550 West 6th Avenue, Suite 100
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4P2
Toll Free 1.877.683.2243