Earlens For Your Hearing


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than 37 million Americans over the age of 18 have trouble hearing. And men are twice as likely as women to experience hearing loss. Not only can it impact your ability to enjoy life, but it also puts you at an increased risk of cognitive decline. In fact, there’s a five times increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease when you are hard of hearing. That’s why it’s imperative to get hearing aids if you’re having trouble. But only one in five people who need them use them. Now a new type of hearing aid is revolutionizing the market — think of it as a contact lens for your ear.

Seventy-six-year-old Muneera Salem-Murdock’s home is filled with books and music.

But the music started to fade when her hearing started to go.

Muneera says, “I started worrying of raising the volume. I certainly did not want to disturb the neighbors.”

She tried traditional hearing aids, but …

Muneera says, “for the first three days, migraines with nausea and vomiting.”

Seth Oringher, MD, Otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine explains, “Ninety nine percent of the hearing aids that are on the market involve a microphone that picks up the sound and a speaker that then sends the sound to the eardrum.”

Now a new type of hearing device is changing the game. Earlens uses a tiny lens placed directly on the eardrum.

Doctor Oringher says, “I describe it as very similar to how a contact lens stays on your eye. So, it’s custom made to fit perfectly in the ear canal against the eardrum.”

A behind the ear processor collects the sound, then wirelessly transfers it to the lens with gentle pulses of energy that precisely stimulate the eardrum, providing a broader range of hearing.

As for Muneera? She says, “I thought I’d give it a try, and I did. And I have not regretted it for a moment.”

She’s back to listening to her music and not worrying about what the neighbors think.

Earlens can help patients whose hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. Patients are able to swim and do anything they would normally do with the Earlens. The only limitation is that if you need an MRI, the doctor will have to remove it. But replacing it takes a matter of minutes. The total cost of Earlens is 12 thousand dollars.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Chuck Bennethum, Editor, Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer.




REPORT #3192

BACKGROUND: Hearing aids are made up of a three-part system. A microphone receives the sound and turns it into a digital signal. The amplifier then increases the strength of the digital signal so the speaker can produce the sound into the ear. Hearing aids are customized and programmed to an individual’s specific needs. A person can adjust the volume and programming for better hearing in different environments. The biggest complaint about hearing aids is background noise. However, hearing aids are equipped with multiple listening programs. They can be tailored to automatically change or manually change between situations to enable better hearing. Hearing aids can be made with two microphones which gives the ability to direct one microphone toward the sound source while the other attempts to decrease some of the background noise.

(Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hearing-loss/how-do-hearing-aids-work)

BENEFITS AND LIMITATIONS: Every individual who gets hearing aids for the first time will experience different side effects. Aural rehabilitation is a patient-centered approach to reduce the impact of hearing loss on communication and may help overcome potential hearing aid difficulties. Some limitations experienced are sounds being amplified, including background noise, that is distracting; your own voice may seem very loud; learning how to adjust them due to the complicated technology; and they can be very expensive. However, the benefits outweigh the limitations over time. Some experience hearing sounds they could not previously hear; improved interactions in noisy environments like restaurants; communicating more efficiently with family and friends; and hearing conversations over the phone more clearly.

(Source: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/hearing-aids/hearing-aid-benefits-and-limitations)

NEW RESEARCH IN TREATING GENETIC HEARING LOSS: An experimental gene therapy treatment, conducted out of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, focused on a patient with hereditary hearing loss. “While the gene therapy we performed in our patient was to correct an abnormality in one, very rare gene, these studies may open the door for future use for some of the over 150 other genes that cause childhood hearing loss,” said John A. Germiller, MD, PhD, an attending surgeon and Director of Clinical Research in the Division of Otolaryngology at CHOP, and Associate Professor at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The patient underwent a surgical procedure where the gene therapy was placed into the inner ear with an endoscope that allows the ear drum to be partially lifted, allowing the medical device to be inserted into the tiny entry point of the cochlea. After four months of gene therapy in one ear, the patient’s hearing had improved to only mild to moderate hearing loss in the ear that was treated. More research is being done in patients of all ages.

(Source: https://www.chop.edu/news/children-s-hospital-philadelphia-performs-first-us-gene-therapy-procedure-treat-genetic-hearing)

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