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EyeHear 20/20: The Benefits of Hearing Aid Devices

May 29, 2012

Improve your senior year hearing with new, beneficial hearing devices.

If you follow our OCLI blog regularly, then you know all about the many effects that the aging process can have on your eyes and your vision health―the onset of cataracts or age-related macular degeneration, problems seeing at night or trouble focusing, and any number of other vision problems. However, another sense that tends to decline as we age, and is just as important as our eyesight, is our hearing.

Our vision and hearing are both integral sense to our experience of the world, and when these senses begin to decline, it can be disconcerting and even frightening for some. Unfortunately, hearing loss is a disability that is currently untreated in about 85% of those affected, and it may be the nation’s most damaging and costly sensory handicap. Plus, because the onset of this age-related problem is usually insidious, gradually worsening over years, it is often not obvious to others or even those who have it.

Depending on the cause of the hearing loss, whether it be age-related or caused by an outside factor, the amount of hearing loss that one experiences as they grow older can be mild or severe, and temporary or permanent. Most people who are affected still have the ability to hear some sounds and think that the real problem is that those around them simply are not speaking clearly.

However, unless treated right away, hearing will worsen as time goes on, and those with hearing loss are likely to become increasingly frustrated and socially isolated. Think about it―if you were unable to hear well in social settings, you would gradually begin to stop going places such as the movies, parties, theatres, etc.

Luckily, digital hearing aids can do wonders for faded hearing, and many other alternative devices are beginning to pop up as audio technology adds new options to help people converse in day-to-day situations. This technology allows people to converse with their friends among a noisy restaurant, or talk quietly in a personal situation.

Hearing aids are mainly useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells.  Through the three basic parts of a hearing aid―a microphone, amplifier and speaker―sound is received through a microphone, which then converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities.

However, in recent years, many other combinations of technologies have become available for those people who need hearing assistance. This is beneficial because every hearing loss is different, and when it comes to audiology, no device is ‘one size fits all’. For instance, a recent New York Times report shares that Richard Einhorn, a composer who suddenly lost much of his hearing two years ago, has made use of an alternative device which aids with hearing when he needs help distinguishing particular noises and voices amongst loud clatter.

He pops on a pair of in-ear earphones and snaps a directional mike on his iPhone, which has an app to amplify and process sound. “I put the iPhone on the table,” he said. “I point it at whoever’s talking, and I can have conversations with them. Soon we forget the iPhone is sitting there. It makes sense when you need to capture a speaker’s voice in a noisy environment. A system that gives you a high-quality directional mike and good earphones can help people hear in a complex setting.”

For more information about hearing loss that commonly occurs with the aging process, be sure to view our EyeHear 20/20 page. You can also fill out our complementary Hearing Self Evaluation Test to find out if you exhibit the signs and symptoms of hearing loss. We also offer free hearing evaluations by our hearing specialists for those patients in need of further testing.  Just call our office to schedule at 973-664-7794.  Don’t let your senior years be tainted by vision or hearing loss. Instead, contact us today to find out how we can help make growing older something to look forward to.


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