Subtle changes in a particular gene may cause hearing loss in the elderly people, reveals a new study. Age-related hearing loss is a complex condition, which scientists believe has both environmental and genetic causes. The most common environmental factor is noise exposure, reported online edition of BBC News. Hearing loss makes it difficult for the elderly to communicate with friends and family, and make them feel isolated. There is currently no way of identifying those at risk or preventing the onset of hearing loss. Researchers at the University of Antwerp studied over 1,200 people aged between 40 and 80, tested their hearing and studied their DNA. They found that subtle changes in a gene called KCNQ4 could play a part in age-related hearing loss. The researchers are optimistic that the new study may one day help them find a treatment for this problem.