Are Earlens Hearing Aids Worth The Hype? Dr. Cliff Olson, Audiologist and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Anthem Arizona, reviews his experience with Earlens Hearing Aids.
My Clinic Website: http://www.AppliedHearingSolutions.com
Earlens Website: https://www.Earlens.com
The Earlens light driven hearing aids are some of the most futuristic hearing aids available. Since their release in 2016 for commercial use, they have caught the eye of hearing aid users looking for something different to treat their hearing loss.
In 2016, Dr. Cliff Olson was one of the first audiologists to dispense these commercially available devices. The concept of the Earlens hearing aid is simple:
1. The behind the ear processor picks up sound like a traditional hearing aid and converts the sound into and electrical signal.
2. This signal is sent through an ear wire to a light tip deep in the ear canal.
3. This electric signal is converted into an infrared light at the light tip that is deep inside the ear canal.
4. This light stimulates a lens that is on your eardrum and causes it to vibrate.
5. This amplified vibration mechanically moves the eardrum, causing you to hear.
When you amplify sound with light, you enable an increase in high frequency amplification. This increase allows the user to receive more high frequency consonant sounds which supplies clarity to speech. Traditional hearing aids can only amplify to around 6 kHz, whereas the Earlens light driven hearing aid can amplify to 10 kHz. This increase bandwidth can potentially make speech and music clearer and more enjoyable.
One of the other notable potential benefits is a reduced risk of feedback. Feedback is a whistling sound that can be caused by a leakage of sound from the ear canal and cycling through the microphone on the hearing aid. However, depending on the severity of your high frequency hearing loss, the mechanical movement of the eardrum could cause its own feedback issues.
There are potential drawbacks to using Earlens.
1. The cost: You will likely spend over $12,000 to get a pair of Earlens hearing aids because of all the extra services required to get them. Not only do you have to see an Audiologist and ENT multiple times, you also have to pay for the innovative technology, and it isn’t cheap.
2. Inconvenience: In addition to all of the extra visits, there are still issues with the technology. There have been cases where users smile and it cuts off the amplification because the light tip points away from the lens. No big deal until you realize you can’t smile or it will cut off the sound.
3. Discretion: Earlens hearing aids are big. They also don’t come in many colors so don’t plan on having them be invisible. However, this may not be a big issue for you if don’t care about looks.
Earlens has some work to do in making their devices more dependable and easy to use. However, if you struggle with hearing aids that have been properly programmed using Real Ear Measures, you may want to give Earlens a try if you can afford it.