At South East Hearing Care Centres we’re proud to represent all the major global manufacturers of hearing aids. Each brand offers the choice of invisible hearing aids in their portfolios, but because each type offers different levels of technology and features, it can be confusing when you’re looking for your next hearing aid.
To help alleviate any such confusion, and to provide clarity to your choice, our guide will focus on the fundamental facts about invisible hearing aids, their benefits, how to get them and ultimately, if they are right for you.
For any further information on this topic, don’t hesitate to contact our experts.
What are invisible hearing aids?
Completely In The Ear Canal
The term invisible is referred to hearing aids that fit completely in the ear canal. Whilst no hearing aid can literally be invisible, it is meant to highlight that they are not visible to people when looking at the user’s face, though they may be partly visible from the side.
Invisible In The Canal
Another version of hearing aids is invisible in the canal or IIC hearing aids. These fit a few millimetres deeper into the ear canal and are invisible from the front and side. A micro canal version or MC is produced by some manufacturers and is slightly smaller than a CIC and slightly larger than an IIC.
Lyric -24/7 invisible hearing
There is only one truly invisible hearing aid that fits very close to the eardrum called Lyric. This is invisible from the front or the side, even when close to the ear. It is also the easiest healing aid to wear as there is no daily removal or insertion. It stays in place for 24 hours a day with no need to change batteries or clean.
Inserted by our experts using microscopes, it can be worn for up to 3 months before the need to exchange and is available on a subscription basis. For more information, please see our Lyric FAQ, or book a risk-free Lyric trial.
How do invisible hearing aids work?
Invisible hearing aids work in exactly the same way as a conventional hearing aid. They require a power source from a battery and have miniature processors inside, like a computer, to alter the sound according to your audiogram.
The result is clearer speech understanding and the more sophisticated models also have the ability to reduce the masking effects of background noise.
The main benefits of invisible hearing aids
- Remove stigma
- Reduce self-conscious feelings
Invisible hearing aids instill confidence in the wearer by being discreet and as a result, remove stigma, barriers to wearing hearing aids and potentially self conscious feelings. When no one knows you are wearing a hearing aid, studies show a much greater wearing time.
The microphone ports pick up sound at the entrance of the ear canal using your ear to naturally locate sound. Because of where the hearing aid is situated, the microphones are more protected from wind noise and wearers often report that the sound from invisible hearing aids is more natural, especially with the Lyric.
How do you insert or remove them?
Most of the invisible hearing aids have a little plastic stalk that looks like an aerial but is in fact just for locating and removing from the ear. To insert is very easy, by holding between thumb and forefinger and gently inserting into the ear canal. Once seated, let go and use a finger to insert the last few millimetres into the ear canal.
The Lyric is unique in that rather than a rigid body made of hard acrylic or titanium, it has a soft outer layer of medical grade foam. It can only be inserted by our fully trained experts using a microscope with special tools to implant deep in the ear canal, only 4mm from the eardrum.
How can you get them?
The first step, as with all hearing aids, is to have a full diagnostic examination which will determine the suitability of your ear for one of these invisible devices. Deep ear canal impressions are taken so the hearing aid can be made to accurately follow the contours of the ear.
Some ear canals may be too narrow to accommodate the hearing aid and electronics and this will be assessed during the consultation.
The Lyric hearing aid does not require deep ear canal impressions because its medical grade foam outer seals are soft and malleable. This allows them to follow the contours like a memory foam and sit comfortably deep in the ear canal.
Through independent hearing care centres
The invisible hearing aid devices are only available through independent hearing centres but caution must be taken in choosing the right one. Always ask questions first and find out how long they have been in business. Many years of experience are crucial in finding a suitably qualified and well practiced hearing care expert. If the clinic is Lyric approved then all the better as they will have microscopes which will ensure a much safer procedure of taking ear impressions.
All our clinics are Lyric approved and accredited and our audiologists fully trained and signed off to fit the exclusive Lyric hearing aid.
Can you get invisible hearing aids on the NHS?
Unfortunately custom made or invisible hearing aids are not available through the NHS. The NHS prefers a click and fit type of behind the ear hearing aid to increase the number of patient journeys. This means a hearing aid can be fitted on the day of the appointment but results in a very restricted or no choice approach. Generally only one type of hearing aid behind the ear is available.
How much do invisible hearing aids cost?
Cost varies considerably on style, manufacturer and the technology levels. Budget hearing aids are exactly what they are and will provide budget hearing. We always recommend that you obtain the most advanced technology you can to achieve the best results.
Numerous studies over the years show the benefit of reducing listening effort and slowing down cognitive decline. Less effort means more brain power for deciphering sounds and their meaning.
For custom hearing aids the range from budget to elite is from £995 to £2,500 each and for the Lyric, a yearly subscription is £1,600 per ear.
Leading brands of invisible hearing aids
Phonak are the producers of the exclusive Lyric hearing aid and also make a CIC and IIC titanium hearing aid, Virto B90 Titanium and Virto M90 Titanium. The lower technology levels are the B70, B50 and M70 and M50.
Starkey produces an IIC version as Soundlens IQ i2400 with lower technology in the Soundlens 2000 and Soundlens 1600.
Oticon produces a CIC and IIC version in the Opn1 CIC with lower technology in the Opn2 and Opn3.
Resound produces a CIC and MC verion in the Linx 3D 9 with lower technology in the Linx 3D 7 and Linx 3D 9.
Widex produces a CIC and MC version in the Moment 440 with lower technology in the Moment 330 and Moment 220.
Signia (formerly Siemens) produces a CIC and MCl in the Insio 7Nx with lower technology in the Insio 5NX and Insio 3NX.
Unitron produces a CIC and IIC in the Tempus Pro/Vista T910 with lower technology in the Tempus pro/Vista T810 and Tempus Pro/Vista T710.
Contact South East Hearing Care Centres
Choosing invisible hearing aids is a great choice and our specialists can help you pick from the best models available from leading manufacturers. Our advice is based on many years of experience and from hearing the feedback from our own patients.