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DiMarco uses the universal language of dance to change the hearing world’s perception of what it means to be Deaf – and he just might win the Mirrorball trophy in the process. Wearing hearing aids has been such a positive experience for Marie Redfern, she wants to encourage others with hearing loss to try them, too. When the BTE processor receives the sound waves, it then converts them into to electronic signals, digitally processes them, amplifies them, and sends them to the ear tip. Although the technology is only approved as of yet for adults with sensorineural hearing loss, which might sound limiting at first, that is not the case. Traditional hearing aids work like tiny speakers that increase the volume on air-conducted sound. Even before coming on board with the company in 2013, EarLense chairman, president and CEO William Facteau knew the cutting-edge technology was different from anything else on the market. The primary goals in treating chronic ear disease are to eradicate the disease thoroughly, prevent recurrence, restore optimal hearing, and maintain a dry ear. Previously, CWDM has been considered the gold standard for the management of cholesteatoma. The decision to perform CWUM or CWDM in patients with chronic ear disease is usually based on several factors such as the extent of disease, assessment of middle ear ventilation, hearing in the involved ear, state of the opposite ear, preoperative complications, condition of the patient, possibility for follow-up, and the surgeon’s preference.2-5 Typically, the surgeon’s choice is the single strongest factor affecting the decision. This study included only those patients who underwent EMO or CWDM by two surgeons (Heo and Park) between July 1997 and March 2009 in two centers and who could be followed-up for at least 18 months. The postoperative observation periods of the EMO group ranged from 19 to 84 months (mean, 46.3 months). We reviewed the medical records of all subjects for operative findings and pure tone audiogram, residual and recurrent cholesteatoma, tympanic membrane abnormalities, otorrhea, cavity problems, prosthesis status, patency of the external auditory canal, and postoperative surgical complications, such as infection, during regular outpatient department follow-up after about 1 week of admission.
In the EMO group, otorrhea and tympanic membrane perforation occurred in six cases each and were the most common complications, followed by adhesion (5 cases), prosthesis extrusion (5 cases), posterior auricular infection (3 cases), retraction pocket formation (3 cases), recurrent cholesteatoma in the tympanic cavity (1 case), and residual cholesteatoma in the middle ear (2 cases; Table 2). In the CWD group, cavity problems were the most common complication and occurred in 10 cases, followed by retraction pocket formation (8 cases), tympanic membrane perforation (6 cases), adhesion (4 cases), otorrhea (3 cases), posterior auricular infection (3 cases), prosthesis extrusion (3 cases), and recurrent cholesteatoma in the tympanic cavity (3 cases; Table 2). We compared the surgical results and postoperative complications after EMO and CWDM performed by the same surgeons to eliminate any effect of surgeon preference on surgical outcomes.
Food and Drug Administration has just approved the marketing of a new hearing aid called the EarLense Contact Hearing Device that uses a laser diode and direct vibration of the eardrum to amplify sound.

In a phenomenon known as the optoacoustic effect, which was discovered by Alexander Graham Bell over a century ago, when certain types of light strike a surface some of the photons are absorbed and their energy is transformed into sound-generating waves. The EarLense Contact Hearing Device has two parts: First, a tympanic membrane transducer (TMT) is placed directly on the eardrum in a non-surgical procedure. As a matter of fact, more than 90 percent of those who wear hearing aids have sensorineural hearing loss, meaning this new laser technology could have a significant impact.
Because they are far from the eardrum, they have the same drawbacks as any type of speakers. The two major treatment options to accomplish them are canal wall up mastoidectomy (CWUM) and canal wall down mastoidectomy (CWDM).
Accordingly, this study reports surgical results of EMO and CWDM performed by the same surgeons to minimize the effect of surgeon preference on the surgical outcomes. The patients were categorized into EMO or CWD groups according to the type of surgery received. In the CWD group, the postoperative observation periods ranged from 18 to 140 months (mean, 61.9 months). Audiometric studies were reported according to the guidelines published by the Committee on Hearing and Equilibrium of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.6 The paired t-test was used for statistical analyses. Committee on hearing and equilibrium guidelines for the evaluation of results treatment of conductive hearing loss. It wasn’t until around 2005, however, that scientists began to look at the ways in which the optoacoustic effect could be used in hearing aids.
One of the criteria for enrollment was that, in order to gauge the difference in patient experience between the two kinds of devices, patients must have previously used an air-conduction hearing aid. Through the use of the laser diode, those electronic signals are converted to pulses of non-visible, infrared light. Sensorineural hearing loss is a type of hearing loss in which the cause lies in the inner ear, based on dysfunction or damage to the cochlea, vestibulocochlear nerve or auditory processing centers in the brain. It is truly proprietary and differentiated; all the other hearing aids generally use air," he said.
In general, CWUM is designed to maintain the normal anatomical contours of the mastoid and preserve the anatomy of the posterior canal wall.

EMO was performed as described in a previous report;5 only autologous conchal cartilage was used for tympanomastoid blockage and epitympanoplasty, and crushed cortical bone chips were used for mastoid obliteration. During CWDM, radical cavities were obliterated with autologous conchal cartilage and inferiorly based muscular flaps. The distribution of tympanoplasty in the EMO group was tympanization in 16 cases, short columellization in 25 cases, fitted incus in 14 cases, partial ossicular replacement in 55 cases, and total ossicular replacement in 22 cases. Researchers examined both the safety and effectiveness of the laser-based hearing aids at 30 days and again at four months, and found no significant contraindications. They also struggle to clearly transmit sound in the higher frequency ranges, which is where many of the important consonant sounds lie. The company has already set its sights on improvements to the device, which will include not only cosmetic changes, but improvements in battery efficiency (the goal is 18 hours with a rechargeable battery) and the addition of audio streaming for the iPhone via low-energy Bluetooth technology. The distribution of tympanoplasty in the CWD group was tympanization in 23 cases, type I tympanoplasty in two cases, short columellization in 17 cases, fitted incus in nine cases, partial ossicular replacement in 33 cases, and total ossicular replacement in 26 cases. The total complication rate in the EMO group was significantly lower than that in CWD group (p = 0.044). As a result, the FDA gave the green light to the sale of the new technology, approving it for adults with mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss. At that point the light pulses are converted back into electronic signals which vibrate the eardrum directly. The cause is sometimes not able to be determined, and it is usually permanent and irreversible.
The laser hearing aids address these issues, which is why the new technology is being hailed as potentially life-changing for millions of those with hearing loss.

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