Macquarie University addresses untreated hearing loss

21 March 2023

Macquarie University has recently addressed untreated hearing loss among Indigenous people across Australia.

Untreated hearing loss is emerging as a widespread problem in the community, according to the first results of the Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey.

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The two-year study is visiting 30 sites across the country to screen hearing and vision in 1750 Indigenous Australians over the age of 40, and 3250 non‑Indigenous Australians over the age of 50.

Inaugural Cochlear Chair of Hearing Health at Macquarie University, Professor Bamini Gopinath, who is leading the ear health component of the survey, says the first results are concerning.

“So far, ninety-seven per cent of the Indigenous people and ninety-one per cent of the non-Indigenous people we screened have some level of suspected hearing loss,” she says.

“All the participants are asked if they think they have any problems with their hearing. Forty‑six per cent of the people who answered ‘no’ to that question had some hearing loss.

“Another worrying factor is that more than a third of people with suspected hearing loss had never spoken to a healthcare professional about their hearing—and that included the people who knew they had an issue as well as those who were unaware.

“We still have many more people to screen, but this data indicates there could be a high percentage of people with undetected hearing loss in Australia, and many are not getting the support they need even when they know they are having problems with their hearing.”

So far, 390 of a planned 5000 people have been screened as part of the survey, with the next rounds of testing taking place in Tamworth, then the Blue Mountains.

Routine hearing tests are recommended for anyone aged 50 or over, even for those who do not think they have any hearing loss.

Mid-life hearing loss is a major risk factor for developing dementia in later life, but it is a risk that can be reduced or even eliminated if the hearing loss is treated.

The Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey is being led by the Westmead Institute for Medical Research and the University of Sydney, with partners the University of New South Wales, the George Institute for Global Health, the Brien Holden Foundation, and Macquarie University.

It is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Macquarie University.

Study Audiology at Macquarie University

Macquarie is home to the Australian Hearing Hub and research centres like the Centre of Language Science. Together, academics at Macquarie University and staff at the Australian Hearing Hub are pioneering a new approach to collaboration, which fosters opportunities for innovation across a wide range of fields.

Macquarie’s Master of Clinical Audiology is a 2-year full time program which includes coursework and supervised clinical practicum. During the course, you will complete a minimum of 200 hours of supervised clinical practice. The audiology program mentors graduates for clinical practice, and produces well-informed health professionals with the critical skills required to appraise scientific and clinical information and to become competent evaluators of current and advancing diagnostic and treatment strategies.

Program: Master of Clinical Audiology
Location: North Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Duration: 2 years
Application deadline: October 30 each year; however, you are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

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