In a previous post, “How to choose the best hearing aid”, I mentioned a few of the different options available when it comes to choosing the overall physical design of a hearing aid. Amongst these options was the IIC, or invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid. This is the smallest custom (requiring an ear impression) hearing aid design available and is offered by several manufacturers.
There are reasons why an audiologist might not recommend an IIC for a client, for example, if the client needs wireless connectivity to their mobile phone or another device. IICs are simply too small to accommodate this type of technology at present.
Sometimes, however, a client will be prepared to forego certain technology features in favour of having a more discreet (or invisible) hearing aid. I’ve had several such cases in the past year, and I was pleasantly surprised with the results I was able to achieve with the Starkey SoundLens.
Starkey Hearing Technologies is a family-owned hearing aid company based in the U.S. The company is known in the industry for its small, custom hearing aids. Until recently, however, I had not had the opportunity to compare a Starkey device with a competitor device using the same ear impression.
As the diagram above demonstrates, the SoundLens is designed to sit deep in the ear canal, close to the ear drum. The shape of the hearing aid shell is based on a deep impression of the ear that is carefully taken by a qualified hearing professional.
The result ultimately depends on the size and shape of the ear canal. If the ear canal is too narrow or has a sharp bend, it may not be possible for the manufacturer to fit the components in the small space available, resulting in much of the hearing aid being visible in the outer ear, as pictured below.
Recently when a client rejected the hearing aids based on this cosmetic result, I decided to send their impression to Starkey to see how small they could go. The image below on the left shows Starkey’s silicone negative ear model with the shadow of the SoundLens IIC completely within the canal. An outer ear is superimposed on the right for perspective. Completely invisible from the outside and a great result for the client.
If you would like to know more about this product and whether it is right for you, please feel free to contact us for a trial!
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