Up to 70% of people with Down syndrome may have conductive and/or sensorineural hearing loss, and many are not able to identify and/or communicate this loss. While some impairments may not be apparent until early adulthood, hearing loss is not uncommon in teens with Down syndrome.
Between 25% and 43% of the population with Down syndrome have refractive errors such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Cataracts, while most commonly seen in adulthood, may also occur in some teens with Down syndrome.
Blepharitis, an inflammation
of the eyelid, can cause eye irritation and increased tearing that interferes
with normal vision.
Nurses working with teens
with Down syndrome may be the first clinicians to detect subtle changes in vision
and hearing, and make referrals for evaluation and treatment. Impaired hearing
and vision can contribute to behavioral problems, social isolation, decline
in living skills, and delirium. Some impairments, such as sensorineural hearing
loss, may not be correctable. Nurses familiar with the teens living situation
can make valuable recommendations for telephones with amplifiers or enlarged
buttons, headsets for use while watching television or playing CDs, and
other adaptive strategies.