Sensory Loss

1. What is sensory impairment?

Sensory impairment or sensory loss –
what does it mean?

‘Sensory impairment’ or ‘sensory loss’ are umbrella terms used to describe loss of the distance senses i.e. sight and hearing.

The term ‘sensory impairment’ is commonly used by professionals rather than ‘sensory impaired’ individuals themselves who may be more likely to use the terms below.

There are three very distinct groups within sensory impairment:

• visually impaired people
• deaf people
• deafblind people


People with a sensory impairment will have experienced life with their individual impairment in a completely different way to others who may be classed as belonging to the same group – no two people will be exactly the same and services should not be delivered as if they were.

Causes of sensory impairment

The largest cause of sensory impairment is the ageing process with over 65s more likely to experience some level of sensory loss. The following is a list of some common causes, of course, this list is not comprehensive …

Blindness/partial sight
Ageing process, e.g. age-related macular degeneration
Disease, e.g. diabetes
Infection, e.g. meningitis
Genetics e.g. retinitis pigmentosa (RP)
Injury or physical trauma

Ageing process
Infection, e.g. meningitis, mumps, measles
Disease, e.g. Ménière’s disease
Physical trauma
Exposure to loud noise

Ageing process
Maternal infection, e.g. rubella
Genetics, e.g. Usher Syndrome
Other congenital causes, e.g. premature birth
Combination of causes of deafness and blindness


The largest cause of visual, hearing and dual sensory loss is the ageing process

Sensory loss and age...