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Earlens: An Overview

Earlens (Earlens Co, Menlo Park, CA.) is the only hearing aid to use light to transmit sound, delivering the most complete sound of any hearing aid on the market.

Conventional hearing aids use a small speaker to amplify sounds. Speakers, however, can only amplify a limited range of frequencies without sound distortion or whistling.

The Earlens Hearing Aid uses radio signal and a small lens placed on the eardrum to directly activate the body's natural hearing system. The result is rich, complete sound. In a
clinical study, the vast majority of people reported that Earlens made it easier to understand people in noisy environments and participate in group situations, compared to traditional, air-conduction hearing aids. The lens-driven hearing technology that Earlens uses also eliminates the major source of whistling that troubles conventional hearing aids.

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Most complete sound:
Earlens can provide meaningful amplification from 125 Hz all the way to 10 kHz, while conventional hearing aids have trouble amplifying below 550 Hz and higher than 5.5 kHz. Research has shown that these lower and higher frequencies impact sound quality and speech understanding, especially in noisy environments.

Earlens: How It Works Video

Earlens: How It Works

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Steps for Fitting of the Earlens

Dr. Battista and the Ear Institute of Chicago Audiology Team work closely together to fit the Earlens. Specifically, the steps involve the following: Dr. Battista makes a mold of the ear canal, which includes the contours of the ear drum. The mold is used by Earlens to make a custom tip (# 2 above) for the sound processor and to make a custom Lens (# 3 above) that fits properly over the ear drum. After these two items are made, Dr. Battista will then place the Lens on the ear drum. The Lens placement is done in the office; no anesthesia is necessary. On the same day, the Audiology Team will then custom program the Earlens to the person's level of hearing/comfort.

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Earlens Processor with custom ear mold tip

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Earlens custom Lens that rests on the ear drum

To view a webinar given by the Ear Institute of Chicago regarding Earlens, please click here.

(All photos and video courtesy of Earlens, Menlo Park, CA.)

List of Publications Regarding Earlens

(Links to full articles are highlighted)

1. Perkins R. Earlens tympanic contact transducer: a new method of sound transduction to the human ear. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1996; 114:720-728.
2. Fritsch MH, Fay JP. EarLens transducer behavior in high-field strength MRI scanners.
Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2009; 140:426-428.
Perkins R, Fay JP, Rucker P, Rosen M, Olson L, Puria S. The EarLens system: new sound transduction methods. Hear Res 2010; 263:104-113.
4. Fay JP, Perkins R, Levy SC, Nilsson M, Puria S. Preliminary evaluation of a light-based contact hearing device for the hearing impaired.
Otol Neurotol 2013; 34:912-921.
5. Edwards B. A Model of Auditory-Cognitive Processing and Relevance to Clinical Applicability.
Ear Hear 2016; 37 Suppl 1:85S-91S.
Puria S, Maria PL, Perkins R. Temporal-Bone Measurements of the Maximum Equivalent Pressure Output and Maximum Stable Gain of a Light-Driven Hearing System That Mechanically Stimulates the Umbo. Otol Neurotol 2016; 37:160-166.
7. Gantz BJ, Perkins R, Murray M, Levy SC, Puria S. Light-Driven Contact Hearing Aid for Broad-Spectrum Amplification: Safety and Effectiveness Pivotal Study.
Otol Neurotol 2017; 38:352-359.
8. Khaleghi M, Puria S. Attenuating the ear canal feedback pressure of a laser-driven hearing aid.
J Acoust Soc Am 2017; 141:1683.
9. Roverud E, Best V, Mason CR, Streeter T, Kidd G, Jr. Evaluating the Performance of a Visually Guided Hearing Aid Using a Dynamic Auditory-Visual Word Congruence Task.
Ear Hear 2018; 39:756-769.
Arbogast TL, Moore BCJ, Puria Set al. Achieved Gain and Subjective Outcomes for a Wide-Bandwidth Contact Hearing Aid Fitted Using CAM2. Ear Hear 2019; 40:741-756.
11. Sperling NM, Yerdon SE, D'Aprile M. Extended-Wear Hearing Technology: The Nonimplantables.
Otolaryngol Clin North Am 2019; 52:221-230.
Folkeard P, Eeckhoutte MV, Levy Set al. Detection, Speech Recognition, Loudness, and Preference Outcomes With a Direct Drive Hearing Aid: Effects of Bandwidth. Trends Hear 2021; 25:1-17.
Vaisberg J, Folkeard P, Levy S, Dundas D, Agrawal S, Scollie S. Sound Quality Ratings of Amplified Speech and Music Using a Direct Drive Hearing Aid: Effects of Bandwidth. Otol Neurotol 2021; 42:227-234.