New Zealanders suffering from hearing loss who are self-conscious about wearing visible aids are set to benefit from the introduction of a new type of implanted hearing technology.
The invisible device is powered by a tiny cell smaller than a grain of rice, and can remain in place deep in the ear canal for up to three months, providing a clear, natural sound with minimal maintenance for users.
James Whittaker managing director at Triton Hearing, the company distributing the Lyric device in NZ, hopes the device will help break down stigmas that often prevent people with hearing loss from seeking help.
“One in 3 people over 65 has aidable hearing loss but, of these, only 20-30 percent go ahead and get hearing aids. We know a high proportion of those who need hearing aids still don't seek help,” says Whittaker.
“A significant target for us is to reduce the stigma around hearing solutions and help people understand the social cost of reticence. You wouldn't hesitate to get glasses to keep your eyesight and that’s what people have to understand about their hearing. It’s use it or lose it,” he says.
Whittaker says the device has been popular with business people and corporates who do not want to wear a visible device.
“The placement of the device in the ear canal allows it to use the natural design of the ear to protect from wind noise and funnel directional sound.
It is also invisible and is even able to be worn swimming,” he says.
Whittaker says the device, fitted by audiologists, is suitable for up to 80 percent of people with hearing loss.
Rather than pay for the device like a standard hearing aid, users pay an annual membership fee that entitles them to as many replacements as required.
The second-largest audiology company in New Zealand, Triton Hearing has expanded significantly in recent years, reporting more than 15 percent growth annually. It has 58 clinics nationally, including the opening of new premises in New Plymouth and in Auckland’s Remuera.
“We plan to continue our current growth trajectory not only in bricks and mortar but also across innovative new channels for healthcare, making hearing care more accessible for all,” says Whittaker.