Can earplugs contribute to visual comfort?

I think so. Or at least, that’s my experience. There are good reasons to believe this might be the case for many other strabismics.

- People who suffer from binocular eye teaming issues often have trouble integrating the senses generally as well. When it’s very hard to operate vision coherently and without confusion, hearing tends to take over some of the visual load and can become oversensitive. This can make it hard to guide attention and control input to the desired sense and you might be suffering from sensory overload. Earplugs can help to turn down the volume of the auditory sense. Often this makes me feel less rattled and results in  slight improvements in operating my vision. In a way this practice temporarily levels the playing field between my underdeveloped vision and my overdeveloped sense of hearing.

- Hearing often draws in visual attention to what is happening around us. Hearing guides our vision and vice versa. If your vision is hard to operate and you tire easily from moving your eyes incessantly, it can be a relieve to temporarily shut down that channel so you won’t be forced to visually attend to auditory cues. It’s a very nice feeling, especially in loud, busy spaces, to turn down the volume and give both your hearing and vision a rest, or at least lessen the stimulation.

However, in many instances, compensatory hearing often proves to be useful. Sounds can make you aware of spatial information which is very helpful when being stereo blind. More generally (rhythmic) sounds of all kinds can promote movement. This too can be a pro and a con. Earplugs are to be used in a discretionary manner. It’s just a nice tool to have a little more control over the both your auditory and visual sense and by extension the state of your nervous system.

PLUGS

Earplugs are very cheap. I got mine for just a few euros at the pharmacy. They are made out of foam. There are various kinds of plugs over a large price range: wax, silicone, custom made, … I have not tried my hand at those. The cheap ones have been so worth it though. Quite a lot of added quality of life for just a few euros.

quiesNOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES

Coincidently one of my cousins visited us a few weeks ago and he had these amazing noise-cancelling Bose earbuds. I never thought I could be so astounded by headphones. In the middle of the wire, it had this little extra device which was actively counteracting outside noise. I don’t know how it works exactly but it’s supposed to be based on hearing aid technology. Almost no outside noise is coming in and the sound produced by the earbuds themselves is great. It’s like listening to soup. Soup in your ears. 

 

bose

 

I started listening to familiar music just to see how it would sound in these headphones. Wonderful. Audio books were delightful as well. Being in this new ‘space’ (for lack of a better word), where no one can ‘touch’ you, felt so relaxing. People were moving all around me and I didn’t even notice! The downside of these wonder headphones is the price tag: 300EUR. I’m not going to buy them at this time but it was a remarkable discovery nonetheless.

This article has 4 comments

  1. Sue J Reply

    I had this sensitivity to sound before my diplopia got to the point where I i noticed, I thought I was just thought I was having blurry vision. The audiologist gave me some custom earplugs shaped to my ears that had changeable noise filters. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this.

    • Michael Lievens Reply

      Very interesting and true! I hope you found some more comfort and things are improving visually.

  2. Logan O. Reply

    My ears are sensitive. I’m actually very good at identifying and locating specific things just by sound. I can tell who or what something is and where it is relative to me just by subtle auditory keys. I noticed this trait when I was very young.

    This could be why I hate going to the theater to watch fast paced action movies, especially something with a lot of computer special effects. If the volume is too loud I can’t process the fast paced visuals and I feel overwhelmed and mentally stressed.

    • Logan O. Reply

      Did you see my latest Facebook profile picture?
      I was sitting out in the woods listening; because I couldn’t see the birds at all, but I could hear them. Haha
      It’s Interesting, I’ve always been like that. I can’t locate certain objects with eyes, but I can with my ears.

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