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Sharpen your senses: The secrets to maintaining eyesight and hearing


The following is from the April 30, 2012, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Sam Holland, director of the division of music at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, provided expertise for this story.

May 1, 2012

The Dallas Morning News

The most obvious of our senses constantly bring to light life’s beauty and depth to its sounds. At their keenest, good sight and sharp hearing are taken for granted. Yet genes, environment, accidents and age can dull our vision, cloud our hearing.

But there are ways to help these senses stay as keen and strong as, and for as long as, possible. They’re nothing magical; much involves the common-sense trio of eating well, exercising, not smoking. Following such tips from experts can help keep hearing and vision as strong as the rest of the body.

 “Anything good for your heart  theoretically is good for your eyes,” says YuGuang He, associate professor of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Those disease processes are very similar, cardiac disease and ocular disease. That’s why we say your eye is the window of your heart.”

 Says Carol Cokely, clinical associate professor at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders: “First and foremost, you need to protect your hearing, because once that goes, it’s not coming back.”

So, in brief, yes, eat salmon and avoid loud noises. Those are merely the first steps. Precaution and simply paying attention go a long way. . .

Their professions put them at risk for hearing loss, but musicians also have a distinct advantage over nonmusicians. A Northwestern University study found that musicians were 40 percent better than nonmusicians at making out and repeating various sentences in noisy environments.

“Think of people playing in a symphony orchestra,” says Sam Holland, director of the division of music at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. “You have 100 other people playing different things. You have something incredibly specific and precise to create and fit into the overall whole. You have to have incredibly selective and precise focus on what it is you’re doing.”

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