January 3, 2017 – Hearing Aid Technology


Anchor lead: Advances in technology have made the prospect of better and less expensive hearing aids possible, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Did you know that only 6 manufacturers currently make hearing aids worldwide? And that only one of them is based in the US? Small wonder then that pairs of hearing aids cost thousands of dollars and may be of limited effectiveness. Frank Lin, a hearing expert at Johns Hopkins, says a remedy in the form of a hearing aid sold over the counter is poised to happen.

Lin: There’s no reason now why hearing aids sold over the counter cannot be safe and cannot be effective. It’s just the regulations haven’t caught up to that.  It’s sort of the combination of a bunch of things: recognizing that hearing loss is actually critically important to maintaining our health as we age. We have a growing population of baby boomers and older adults who sort of need these technologies, and more importantly now we have technologies in place now to make these devices safe and effective if they were available over the counter, and hence that’s why there’s such a big push now to essentially have FDA change regulations to allow this to go forth.   :30

Lin notes that studies to discern the benefits of improved hearing for adults are also on the horizon.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.