A person who's deafblind won't usually be totally deaf and totally blind, but both senses will be reduced enough to cause difficulties with everyday activities.

The hearing or vision problems may be present from birth, but in many cases one or both problems develop gradually as a person gets older and they may not notice it at first.

If someone you know has a combination of the signs on this page, it's possible they have some degree of deafblindness and should seek medical advice.

Signs of a hearing problem

Hearing loss can occur from birth or may develop gradually or suddenly later on.

Signs that someone may have a problem with their hearing include:

If someone already has a hearing problem – for example, they wear a hearing aid or use sign language – keep an eye out for signs of vision problems that could develop.

Signs of a vision problem

Vision loss can also be present from birth or develop later on.

Signs someone may have a problem with their vision include:

If a person already has a problem with their vision – for example, they wear glasses, use a cane to get around, or have a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts – be alert for signs of hearing problems that could develop.

Getting medical advice

Visit your GP if you notice any deterioration in your hearing or eyesight.

If you're worried about a friend or family member's vision and hearing, encourage them to speak to their GP.

It's best to seek advice as soon as possible, as treatment for some underlying causes of deafblindness can be more effective if started early.

Early diagnosis will also ensure the person is able to access local support services sooner, and enable them to plan for the future (such as learning new communication methods).

Read more about diagnosing deafblindness and managing deafblindness.

Page last reviewed: 1 August 2019
Next review due: 1 August 2019