July 5, 2010

Experience the New Starkey Otolensan

Parker,-MollyPICS – Parker, Molly.epsBy Dr. Molly Parker
Don White Hearing Aid Center

Recently I had a remarkable experience with a new product, the Starkey Otolensan invisible in canal (IIC) hearing aid. It is like a contact lens for the ear. Many who know me, know that I’ve worn amplification since I was a child. This is how I became interested in becoming an audiologist. While I don’t proclaim my hearing loss to the masses, I don’t hide it either. I’ve worn many new hearing aid technologies over the past 30+ years. As an audiologist I am careful to evaluate what is hype and what is legitimate in the marketing of hearing aids. I believe this benefits my patients in describing realistic expectations. For me,the new Starkey Otolens certainly lives up to its marketing claims.

Thus far I have worn the Starkey Otolens hearing aids for one month. These hearing aids are truly invisible in my ears, unlike my old small but visible–completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aids. With the Starkey Otolens I can use my stethoscope, my phone, and my headphones without removing my hearing aids and without feedback. They are comfortable, and I have fallen asleep with them in several times. I also do not get the itchiness in my ear canals like I did with my old hearing aids, I assume because they fit so deep, beyond where the wax is being produced.

Even more impressive is the sound quality from the new IQ circuit inside the Starkey Otolens. This circuit is available in other sizes of hearing aids (behind the ear and in the ear styles). I can localize where sounds are coming from. Road noise has been vastly reduced when I’m driving; and I don’t really hear car noise unless I’m listening for it. Realistic expectations still prevail—others must still speak loud enough and they need to look at me. But I think normal hearing people experience this also.

I will say that these are most appropriate for someone who can handle a small device and is comfortable with a deep fitting hearing aid. Wax and moisture issues will need to be carefully monitored. The Dry & Store would be a good investment. Overall the Starkey Otolense costs a bit more but it is worth it.

A word about Starkey Labs which makes the Otolens. Starkey is the only truly American hearing aid company, and it really shows with their innovations. I met the founder of Starkey, Bill Austin, who fit me with the Otolens hearing aids. He is the only company owner who still sees patients. He also heads up the Starkey Foundation, a non-profit organization which donates and fits hearing aids on thousands of hearing impaired children around the world. Despite his impressive resume, Bill is a regular guy who is surprisingly easy to relate to.

Check my blog, www.donwhitehearing.com to follow my personal experiences with other hearing aid companies.