Earlens, Houston Hearing Center, and Houston ENT & Allergy Educational Webinar
Are you looking for information on Earlens, the world's only nonsurgical lens that directly vibrates the eardrum? This 55 minute webinar covers the features of this device as well as information on the prevalence of hearing loss, how hearing loss affects the brain, testimonials, the custom fitting process, frequently asked questions, and cost.
This Earlens webinar features Houston ENT and Allergy physician Mark Nichols, MD as well as Houston Hearing Center audiologist Carrie Raz, AuD. They both share their expertise as it applies to the Earlens device.
The content below was partially transcribed from this webinar...enjoy!
Prevalence of Hearing Loss in the United States
We know that out of 210 million adults in the United States, 44 million, about 20% of the population, have a hearing loss. This is a huge problem in the United States, as you know, you don't need a physician to tell you this. You know how difficult sometimes it can be speaking with your family and friends, hearing nature sounds, birds chirping, hearing the leaves rustle, and especially music. If you can't hear all of the frequencies of music, well, you just really can't perceive the richness of sound.
A surprising statistic of those with hearing loss, only 80% of those with a hearing loss don't wear hearing aids regularly or regularly at all. A lot of this has to do with just the quality of the sound information they're getting with their standard hearing aids. The number one reason why 70% of people that were fitted with hearing aids chose not to wear hearing aids is they felt that sound quality was their biggest complaint about hearing aids. They just didn't like the way it sounds. They put it away in a drawer.
The Earlens device, is a small device that looks not unlike a contact lens and it's inserted in through the ear canal in the office in a very minor procedure, not painful at all. And this device, because it has a small motor in it, works superior to a hearing aid. It vibrates the eardrum directly and amplifies sound across a more broad bandwidth. This is at least two times the bandwidth of a standard hearing aid.
Another great benefit, you can stream music directly from your iPhone device to Earlens device, including phone conversations which really is exciting.
Hearing Loss and Its Effect on the Brain
Hearing loss, if left untreated, can negatively affect the brain. Two landmark studies that were done over the past 10 years have demonstrated, that there is an increased incidence of dementia in patients with untreated central hearing deafness, or nerve deafness. And in severe deafness, the incidence can be five times as high. The way that this works is that when you're struggling to hear, this is affecting the same part of the brain that's responsible for inputting short-term memories.
And so this is the reason why we, as physicians, really, really spend a lot of time talking to our patients to encourage them to treat their hearing loss. And the advantage of the Earlens, because it has such a broad spectrum of frequency response and amplification, you're going to get better speech understanding as a result of that.
Because it's such a great advance in the field of hearing, speech, and language, Time Magazine has recognized this as one of the best inventions of 2020.
Bill H: I started doing something that I found was very isolating, and that was to stop up asking. I'd just try to guess what someone was saying, and then you come up with those answers that could answer anything, like, "Oh yeah," or "Mm." You have no idea what they said.
Genie P.: I just noticed that music felt a little flat. It didn't have the richness, even when I went and saw a concert in person.
Dave P.: I would misunderstand the words they would say, so it caused me to be a very introverted person, and avoiding crowds and activities where I would be in a situation where I might misunderstand or not even hear the conversation, and couldn't follow on what everyone else was talking about. So I really felt isolated from most other people and activities as a result.
Barbara G.: If people talked to me, unless they were facing me, I didn't hear what they said. And it was very discouraging, so I stayed in my room by myself, and my TV was all the way up on 30.
Casey H.: The two hearing aids that I had prior to Earlens were worthless. They accomplished nothing.
Carol L.: I tried other brands, and the quality of the sound was not good. I found myself not always using them, they didn't solve my issues with hearing.
Dante C.: Asking people to repeat things when you're looking right at them is pretty embarrassing, and it just got to the point where I knew I had to do something.
Genie P.: The day that I found out about Earlens, it just changed everything for me. It really was the answer that I was seeking.
Bill H: And I was very excited to make the appointment to have the Earlenses placed in my ears.
Dante C.: The process is really actually very simple, it's not a difficult process at all.
Bill H: There is a device that is actually on your eardrum, and another device that is the component that processes the sound.
Genie P.: We put this lens in your ear, and for me, it was like bingo. I said, "Oh my gosh, that's it."
Dave P.: Earlens is that technology improvement that I'd been looking for.
Bill H: I was walking from the kitchen through the living room and I stopped because I heard an unusual noise, I couldn't figure out what it was. It was my feet compressing the carpet. This is something you can't express to someone.
Genie P.: After getting my brand new Earlens, I immediately turned the radio on to my favorite music and I just sat there, and tears, I mean literally tears, just came down.
Dante C.: When my grandkids were... we were doing something at their house and they were talking softly, and I said, "Now, why would you say that?" And they all kind of went, "Oh, Pops can hear now." It's a whole different world for me.
Casey H.: Now I know that when I walk into any situation, I'll be able to hear what's going on, and prior to Earlens I could walk into any situation and wonder whether I was going to hear anything or not.
Bill H: To have gone from obscurity and reclusion and isolation to hearing all these sounds again, as I described it, I've described it many people, on December 29th I had my second birthday.
Dante C.: From the first moment I got them, I was hooked to Earlens. There was no way I was going to go try something else. This is the way to go, they're worth every penny.
Casey H.: I would say your choice is to buy another product and be dissatisfied with it and waste that money and then go get an Earlens, or short circuit that and just go get the Earlens.
Genie P.: I went to bed almost every night with my hearing aids in, and my kitty purring in my ear would wake me up, and I'd go, "Oh, my hearing aids are still in," because they felt so normal, so natural.
Speaker 2: It's been fantastic because I'm hearing things now that I haven't heard in 10 years. To me, it's, I want to say heaven.
Bill H: I don't recommend things to people unless I really believe in it, and I don't think there's anything I've recommended more frequently than Earlenses to people that I know. There is no reason to postpone this decision, and there is no reason to not make the right choice, and the right choice is Earlens.
Genie P.: Well, the day that I found out about Earlens, it just changed everything for me. It absolutely answered, over and above anything I could have imagined. I told many people, I said, "I've got my hearing back."
Earlens Custom Fitting Process with Houston ENT and Houston Hearing Center
So the process with Earlens, it's an easy and unique process where you get the expertise of both the ENT physician and the audiologist. In this case, you'd be meeting with Dr. Nichols and Dr. Raz to determine if your hearing profile and anatomy make you a good candidate for Earlens.
Once that's been determined and you move forward, Dr. Nichols will take impressions of your ear so your custom Earlens devices can be made for your ears. Those impressions are then sent to our corporate office in Menlo Park, California, where the lenses are going to be custom-built and then sent back to Houston ENT within two weeks.
At that point, Dr. Nichols will place the lenses on your ear. It's a 10 to 15 minute on each side, if you get bilateral hearing aids, to place the lenses. Then Dr. Raz, the Houston Hearing Center audiologist, will help optimize those settings based on your hearing profile. Once the lenses are placed and optimized, you're going to have 60 days to trial the Earlens device while working with Dr. Nichols, Dr. Raz, our field audiologist, and the Earlens concierge to best optimize your hearing, so you're truly delighted and hearing better than you have in years.
The standard pricing is $12,000 for both ears. And how that's broken down is there's a $1000 impression fee that if it's returned, you can apply that towards another hearing aid. The devices themselves would be $8,000 and then bundled into that pricing of the $12,000 includes $3,000 for three years of service that include up to five visits per year with the physician and the audiologist.
You also receive complimentary remote support with our Earlens concierge. We also have a great financing program with Ally lending or Ally lending, and that's a 36-month, no interest. And you can finance as much or as little as you'd like. But as an example, if you finance that full $12,000, that payment would be approximately $333 per month. And we are taking care of the interest on that, so there'll be no interest over that timeframe.
Frequently Asked Questions about Earlens Hearing Aids
Can I feel Earlens when I'm wearing it?
The answer to that is, you know the device is there, but because the device is there... Again, these are customized fitted devices. They have very smooth edges. There's a thin coating of oil that sits on your eardrum and down in your ear canal. And this device basically floats on that thin coating of oil. So it's something you're not going to notice it's there. You think about it, you'll know that you've got them in there, but because you're busy going about your life, it's not something that you're going to be paying attention to. That's what most people tell us about this.
Do I need to change batteries?
They have a rechargeable system, so no batteries need to be changed. It would just need to be charged while you're sleeping.
Can it connect to my phone or other devices?
Currently, it is Apple only. So Apple iPhones can be connected straight to the Earlens devices.
Can it get wet?
The device behind your ear you cannot get wet, just like a traditional hearing aid.
However, the device on your ear eardrum can do with regular showering. Activities like routine swimming are not appropriate and you would need to place waterproof earplugs.
How often do I need to get the lens checked?
When you have the service plan, you have the capability of coming in at least five times a year. It is always important stay on top of your ear condition. Certainly, wax can build up and get down on your canal and we don't want to get that caked down in there. So we're happy as part of that visit to clean the wax out and inspect the device, just to make sure that it's optimized and performing well. So we would like for you to use all your visits if possible.
How does Earlens work with tinnitus?
Hearing aids, in general, have been shown to often have a positive effect on Tinnitus. As for the reasons that both doctors just intimated there that you're getting more stimulation and also it's taking you out of silence, in some cases for certain sounds, and that helps with the Tinnitus. We at Earlens have seen very often positive effects by wearing Earlens and it makes perfect sense since we're providing amplification over such a wide bandwidth, that we might actually even have more success in helping patients with Tinnitus.
What's the life expectancy of Earlens?
The device will last for many years. The service agreement does provide for replacement within a three-year period. So we know with standard hearing aids, technology improves, processing improves so many people will opt to upgrade once they get several years down the road, but the patient should get many, many years of very enjoyable use out of these devices.
Is It For Me?
Is your hearing loss affecting the life you live? Does it make you feel like you’re missing out on things? Would you like to throw your hearing aids in the ocean? Have you avoided wearing them entirely? If so, Earlens is likely a solution for you.
It is designed to treat adults with the most common type of hearing loss — moderate to severe nerve-related (sensorineural) hearing loss. With Earlens, you can work, play, and live as you could before hearing loss.
Earlens is not an option if you already have a cochlear implant.
Hear what you've been missing
Request a complimentary Earlens sound demonstration: Trying Earlens is easy. First, you will meet with an audiologist and ENT doctor to determine whether you are an Earlens candidate. Then, the ENT doctor will take an impression of your ear that will be used to build the lens and ear tips, which takes about two weeks. At your next appointment, the ENT doctor will place the lens into your ears and your audiologist will adjust the settings to optimize your hearing. As you adapt to Earlens, you will continue to have the full support of our practice as well as the Earlens Concierge team. To learn more, call us and ask to schedule an Earlens consultation.
Consultations are available at our Memorial City office. Call the Houston Hearing Center at 281-649-7420 for more information or to schedule an appointment