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Harmonizing; Vision loss and music

Harmonizing Vision Loss and Music: More Than Meets the Eye

September 19, 2023

Music is widely recognized for its numerous benefits, from increasing concentration to lowering stress levels. However, what may come as a surprise is that researchers have delved into the intriguing relationship between music and vision. Some studies have even suggested that music can temporarily enhance vision. Yes, you read that right! As someone who has worn corrective lenses since the 3rd grade, I was genuinely intrigued by this revelation. While it’s unlikely that ophthalmologists will be out of business anytime soon, the connection between music and vision is undeniably fascinating. It may hold the key to improving the quality of life for seniors with vision loss.

One of the most well-known aspects of this relationship is what’s often referred to as “The Mozart Effect.” This term gained popularity in the early 1990s when researchers observed that people experience a brief period of improved visuospatial reasoning (about 10-15 minutes) after listening to classical music compositions by Mozart. This discovery created quite a buzz, with claims that listening to Mozart could boost IQ levels. However, it’s important to note that this theory has largely been debunked over the years. Subsequent studies on the subject either failed to produce similar results or exhibited biased designs. Nonetheless, what remains credible about the Mozart Effect is the notion that music can elicit a powerful emotional response in the listener. It’s this emotional connection to music that has the potential to impact a wide range of psychological and physiological responses in the body.

So, what does all of this mean for seniors, particularly those grappling with vision loss? Much more than you might expect. Vision loss, including conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, affects approximately 18% of adults aged 65 and older. Seniors who experience vision loss or impairment often feel increasingly isolated and depressed as they withdraw from social situations that become more challenging to navigate without clear vision. However, music has proven to be a powerful antidote to these struggles by

  • Boosting morale
  • Rekindling cherished memories
  • Providing opportunities for self-expression and connection with others
  • Easing stress and anxiety

Music has an uncanny ability to transport the listener to a different time and place, a way of connecting people who might seemingly have little in common—and for a senior with impaired vision, feeling isolated from activities that require good eyesight, that can be a ray of hope.

At The Hickman, music isn’t just an extracurricular activity—it’s an integral part of our lifestyle! Our residents can engage with music in various ways, including participating in a weekly ukulele group, enjoying frequent musical performances by local musicians and students, joining in sing-a-longs, and attending daily exercise classes set to music. These musical experiences foster connections among neighbors, bringing them together in shared enjoyment of the songs that have formed the soundtrack to their lives. The list of positive effects of music on our residents is extensive, and it’s heartening to know that enhancing the quality of life for seniors with vision loss and impairment is among them.

The harmonious relationship between music and vision is a fascinating and potentially transformative one, particularly for seniors facing vision challenges. While the Mozart Effect may have lost some of its initial luster, the emotional power of music remains undeniable. It offers a lifeline for seniors, helping them navigate the complex terrain of vision loss, and it’s a vital component of our commitment to enriching the lives of residents at The Hickman.

[9:27 AM] Tim