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Self-Check: Do-it-Yourself Hearing and Vision Tests

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By: Genevieve Cunningham


Preventive care is key to long-term health and wellness. As young children, preventive care is a given. We’re scheduled for checkups at regular intervals, and most parents dutifully take their children to make sure all is well. As adults, this type of preventive care often falls by the wayside. We get too busy, it’s too expensive, or it’s just too much trouble.

Unfortunately, the mere fact that we’re aging means that preventive care and checkups are more important than ever. Luckily, when life gets in the way, there are many ways to simply check for ourselves. And since hearing and vision are some of the first things to suffer with age, why not start with self-checks in these two important areas?

Doctors at The Joint Chiropractic want you to enjoy life fully, and one way to do that is to get out in front of minor problems before they become big ones.

Common vision problems

Vision changes, including vision loss, general eye problems, and various eye diseases, can be a normal part of the aging process. Every part of the body changes with age, and the eyes are no exception. As we get older, our eyes may experience some of the following changes.

  • Losing close-range visibility - It’s not uncommon to lose the ability to see up close as we age. Optometrists expect nearly 100 percent of people over the age of 45 to require some kind of reading glasses. Though it’s possible to skate through without issue, the numbers suggest that it’s unlikely to maintain 20/20 vision as we age.
  • Dry eye - This is common in older adults, especially women over the age of 50 years. Dry eye is not only uncomfortable, but it also affects long-term health of your eyes.
  • Age-related macular degeneration - This is a general decline in the overall health of the eyes and general vision. It might damage central vision and peripheral vision and may affect daily tasks such as reading and driving. If caught early, treatment and preventive measures are available.
  • Cataracts - This is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, and as a result, vision becomes blurry. The good news is that most cataracts can be removed with simple surgery.

Most vision changes can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Some might require a procedure or medication. And still others may require a change to your lifestyle and habits. It’s important that it’s caught early. Although regular trips to the eye doctor can certainly help, regularly checking your vision at home is a good idea.

How to self-check your vision

Most people probably don’t check their eyes at home. We just don’t think about it. But checking your eyes at home can help you monitor your overall eye health and vision. How do you check your eyes at home? It’s an easy process with these simple vision tests.

  • Near vision test - This eye exam is simple and doesn't require any additional materials. Hold reading material—a book, magazine, etc.—at a normal distance from your body. Cover one eye and read the material. Repeat on the other side. Did you make mistakes? Was it blurry? Take notes of any difficulty and take it up with your eye doctor.
  • Distance vision test - Purchase an eye exam chart such as this one. Stand about 20 feet away. Once again, cover one eye and read the lines on the chart. Cover the other eye and repeat. Uncover both eyes and read the lines. Note any difficulties.
  • Amsler grid test - Print an Amsler grid such as this one. Cover one eye and focus on the center dot. Notice any blurriness, waviness, or moving sensations. Repeat with the other eye.
  • Eye fatigue test - In the world of technology, eye fatigue is a big problem. You can monitor fatigue by checking your eyes after screen time. Redness, soreness, eye pain, or dry eyes should be noted. If you notice fatigue, make sure to follow the 20-20-20 rule, which is to look at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds after about 20 minutes in front of your screen.

At-home eye tests are not going to be as specific or thorough as seeing a professional. Don’t skip your appointments. Let an eye doctor check for any problems, treat any conditions, and keep you on the path to good vision and optimal eye health.

Common hearing problems

Good eye health and regular monitoring is important, but that’s not where our self-checks should end. We should also stay on top of ear health. Just like the eyes, our ears can be affected by various problems. Aging plays its part, but these ear problems may show up at any stage of life.

  • Age-related hearing loss - It’s not uncommon for hearing to fade as we get older. It’s the most common type of hearing loss and is caused by changes to the inner ear as we age.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss - When we’re exposed to loud noises for a long period of time, or extremely loud noises for short periods of time, damage can occur that affects our ability to hear.
  • Tinnitus - Also known as ringing in the ear, tinnitus is difficult to understand. It can be caused by loud noises, age, earwax buildup, and even high blood pressure.
  • Ear infections - Affecting people of all ages, most ear infections are harmless. But serious ear infections may affect hearing and overall ear health.
  • Earwax buildup - We’re actually supposed to have earwax. It serves as protection for the ear canal. But when earwax is excessive, it can cause pain, discomfort, and muffled hearing.

Hearing problems can be subtle. It’s rare that we lose hearing all at once. Instead, we may notice small problems that then build up over time. And because of the subtlety, self-checks have become more important than ever.

How to self-check your hearing

When we’re young, hearing tests are often a part of the school experience. Remember wearing the big headphones and listening for the beep? As adults, there aren’t really any hearing tests unless we specifically ask for them or notice a problem. But that doesn’t mean we can’t check for ourselves. If you want to prevent hearing loss, you can self-check your hearing with just a few basic tests.

  • Online hearing test - There are multiple tests that can be done online. Tests like this can help assess potential hearing loss and let you know whether it’s time to head to the doctor.
  • Background noise assessment - Pay attention to how well you can hear in different environments. Maybe you hear really well at home, but not so well in a crowded restaurant. If background noise causes a lot of difficulty hearing, it may actually be a sign of hearing loss.
  • Use an app - There’s an app for everything—even hearing tests. Use an app such as Mimi Hearing or Hear Me to test your hearing right in the comfort of your home.
  • Volume check - A really quick way to assess your hearing is to look at the volume of your electronic devices. Are you gradually turning them up louder? If so, it may not be the speaker. It may be your ears.

We shouldn’t take the health of our eyes and ears for granted. We rely on these senses every single day. Often, it’s not until the ability to see and hear has been taken away that we truly take it seriously. But why wait when you don’t have to? Check your own health at home. Watch for changes, even if they’re minor, and then take any concerns you have straight to your doctor. Take care of your eyes so you can watch your children grow up and your ears so you can hear the laughter around the dinner table. Your eyes and ears bring magic to your life. Protect the magic and your health by starting these at-home self-checks today.

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