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Usher syndrome is a genetic disorder that is characterized by complications in vision and hearing; the most common of them being partial/complete loss of hearing and retinitis pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa is characterized by progressive deterioration of the retina, resulting in deprivation of peripheral vision and subsequent night blindness.
The symptoms and its rate of progression usually vary among people. Usher syndrome is classified into three types:
- Type 1: In this type, children are born with balance issues and hearing loss problems. The symptoms of night blindness and loss of peripheral vision associated with ‘Retinitis Pigmentosa’ only appear in the early stages of adolescence.
- Type 2: In type 2, children are born with moderate to mild hearing loss problems. Retinitis Pigmentosa develops soon after the child reaches adolescence.
- Type 3: In type 3 Usher Syndrome, children are usually born with normal hearing skills, however, loss of hearing and Retinitis pigmentosa occur soon after puberty.
Hearing loss in Usher syndrome occurs when the nerve cells that are present in the cochlear (inner ear’s spiral cavity) are affected by genetic mutation. A similar problem occurs in the cells of the retina leading to loss of vision. These cells allow conversion of light into electrical signals for the brain to interpret them. Both the parents need to pass the mutated gene to the child for it to be affected. If the child has only one gene, then he/she rarely develops the symptoms.
This disorder does not have any prescribed course of treatments. The vision loss that occurs in this disorder can be slowed down by nutritional therapy. This therapy involves providing the body with essential amounts of vitamin A which can help in reducing vision loss. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Ent Specialist.