Man with hearing aid

Hearing Devices

Hearing devices are full of features to help you hear better and engage with others. Devices today do more than just help your hearing—they are connecting to your smartphone and providing a better, more practical experience. But, with many hearing devices currently on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. 

As experts in hearing care, we can help you make that decision. We are here to guide you through the process and answer all of your questions. There’s nothing “one size fits all” about hearing solutions, so in addition to hearing evaluation and counseling services, we also provide rehabilitative and other support and education services

We price our devices competitively, and as a non-profit, you can have the confidence that the proceeds from the sale go toward supporting our mission.

Make an appointment today by calling us at 617-573-3266 or requesting one online.


Learn more about the different types of hearing devices:

Non-Surgical Devices

Hearing better is so much more than simply making sounds louder. Today, hearing devices are personalized, connected, and focused on controlling the sounds around you. They make sounds louder and manage unwanted noise. They connect to almost anything you want to hear, including phones and theaters. Some even have their own apps that help you adjust and locate them if lost.

The selection of a hearing device can be an overwhelming process because there are so many features and styles. Our audiologists will guide you. We’ll separate fact from fiction, because here at Mass. Eye and Ear, we not only dispense hearing aids, but we study their components, test their claims, and stay current on the latest technological developments. Every hearing device we carry has passed very high standards of fit and function.

Hearing aids are currently sold so that all of the services provided are bundled in with the price of the hearing aid and come with a 60-day trial. Typically, you will not contact the hearing aid manufacturer directly. 

Private health insurance sometimes provides partial coverage for hearing aids. While Medicare does not cover hearing aids, MA Medicaid often does. Some insurance companies require you to use an in-network provider. Call ahead to determine if we are in your network. You may also be able to use your Health Savings or Flexible Spending Accounts (HSA and FSA) for tax-free spending.


Conventional Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are medical devices that are dispensed by a licensed professional. There are three basic styles of conventional hearing aids: behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-the-ear (RITE), and in-the-ear (ITE).

  • BTE hearing aids sit behind the ear and connect to an earmold in the ear with a sound tube. Because most of the components are behind the ear, they are durable, as they have fewer wax and moisture problems compared to other styles. They vary in size and have the flexibility to fit to every type of hearing loss. The earmold that couples the hearing aid to the ear is made of a lightweight material and is custom made for comfort and fit. Sometimes, for people with no hearing in one ear, sounds can be picked up on the poorer ear and are sent to the better ear. This is a special kind of BTE hearing aid called a “CROS.”
  • RITE hearing aids are similar to BTE hearing aids, but the speaker portion of the hearing aid (known as the receiver) sits in the ear canal. It can connect to an in-ear dome or a custom earmold. This can be more discrete than a standard BTE.
  • ITE hearing aids are in a shell, which are custom formed to fit in the bowl of your ear and/or the ear canal. They are typically intended for mild to moderate degrees of hearing loss, and come in a range of sizes, from very small devices that fit completely-in-the-canal (CIC) to ones that entirely fill the bowl of your ear. 

Only some health insurance companies cover hearing aids. We sell Phonak, Oticon, and ReSound.


Non-implanted Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA)

If you have hearing loss due to sounds being blocked (conductive hearing loss) or are deaf on one side, you may benefit from a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA). With a conventional hearing aid, the sound waves need to travel through your entire auditory system, which includes the outer, middle, and inner ear. With a BAHA, the sound will bypass these parts and stimulate your inner ear directly by providing vibration directly to your head. 

Non-surgical approaches to hold the BAHA processor on the skin include wearing a soft headband or a special plastic band that fits on similar to backward glasses. We use BAHAs from Oticon Medical and Cochlear.


Other Types of Hearing Aids

Please note, the following devices are not currently offered at Mass. Eye and Ear. Please contact us if you have any questions.

  • Lyric hearing aids rest inside the ear canal for months at a time. They use part of the ear's natural anatomy to amplify sound. The device is placed near the eardrum by a trained professional, no surgery or anesthesia is required. Learn more.
  • Earlens hearing aids look like BTE hearing aids, but have a part that looks like a lens and sits directly on the eardrum. Because a part sits directly on the eardrum, a physician helps place this device. Learn more.

Surgical Devices

In close collaboration with our ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors, we offer hearing devices that involve surgery. Some devices provide a surgically-created path for acoustic sound waves to get to the ear (BAHA), while others replace the sensing part of the ear with bionic sound waves through an implantable device (cochlear and brainstem implants). Sometimes both acoustic and bionic sounds are in one device (electro-acoustic cochlear implant). 

Many health insurance companies pay for aspects of these devices, therefore, we have a Device Coordinator on staff who will work with you to determine what is/is not covered after our multidisciplinary evaluation and recommendation. In general, the “medically necessary” parts and procedures are covered for people who meet candidacy criteria, but other features, such as those for connectivity and convenience, may not be. 

In the case of clinical trials, there could be significant financial costs after the trial is complete. Brand choice for surgical devices depends on many factors that we will discuss with you.


Implanted Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA)

If you have hearing loss due to sounds being blocked (conductive hearing loss) or are deaf on one side, you may benefit from a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA). With a conventional hearing aid, the sound waves need to travel through your entire auditory system, which includes the outer, middle, and inner ear. With a BAHA, the sound will bypass these parts and stimulate your inner ear directly by providing vibration directly to your head. 

Surgical approaches to hold the BAHA processor include a magnet attached to your skull under your skin and a small abutment (screw) that provides a direct connection. 

We use BAHAs from Oticon Medical and Cochlear.


Cochlear Implant

A cochlear implant is a bionic ear. Rather than send acoustic sound to help the hearing organ like a hearing aid, the cochlear implant sends sound directly to the nerve. It helps people who have the greatest amount of hearing loss, when hearing aids aren’t able to make sounds loud and clear enough. Sometimes, people who have normal hearing in one ear but are deaf in the other use a cochlear implant in their deaf ear. 

Cochlear implants have two parts; an external sound processor worn behind the ear or on the head, and a surgically implanted stimulator that sends sounds directly to the hearing nerve in the inner ear. The two parts connect across the skin using radio waves and held together with magnets. Only the outside part has the battery, so that it can be replaced or recharged.

There are three cochlear implant manufacturers available in the US: Advanced Bionics, Cochlear, and MED-EL. We support all of them.

An electroacoustic, or “hybrid” cochlear implant sends high-frequency bionic sounds, using acoustic sounds for the low frequencies.


Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI)

An auditory brainstem implant is a lot like a cochlear implant, but instead of sending sounds to the cochlea, it sends sounds to the auditory part of the brainstem. This is for the rare cases when the hearing nerve is not healthy.

Our researchers from the Wilson Auditory Brainstem Implant Program are currently conducting the only FDA approved clinical trial in the US for adult deaf patients who do not have NF2 to receive the ABI. We also have a second study for pediatric patients who are deaf but do not have NF2.


Consumer Devices

You also have the option to get consumer devices. These might include apps that you can download on your smartphone (or even websites), new kinds of “hearables” that combine headphone features with specific hearing assistance features, or assistive devices that can be integrated into different aspects of your lifestyle. We sell some of these consumer devices here.


Hearables

“Hearables” are a growing class of hearing products that can be purchased without a formal hearing evaluation. These devices do more than just amplify sound, many use the same directional microphone and sound processing technology as hearing aids, which can improve hearing in background noise. Additionally, some hearables are able to stream music and phone calls from your smartphone. They may even communicate with a smartphone app that allows you to customize the sound to fit your individual hearing needs. 

We know about hearing-enhancement hearables and recommend a select set of them. We will continue updating our recommendations as new hearable devices come on the market and are evaluated by our team.

  • Bose Hearphones, used with the Bose Hear app (for iOS and Android), are conversation-enhancing, noise reduction headphones that are specially designed to help you hear in louder environments. They cost $499.95 and offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty.
  • Sound World Solutions CS 50+, used with the CS Customizer app (for iOS and Android), helps you hear more and get back in the conversation. You can take phone calls and stream music. They cost $349.00 each and offer a 45-day money-back guarantee and a 90-day warranty.
  • SonicTechnology SE9000 is a simple device that amplifies sound using standard headphones. It uses rechargeable batteries and three-position tone selection. They cost $79.95 each and have a 3-year warranty.

These devices can be purchased from the manufacturer, online, or at the Mass. Eye and Ear Hearing Aid Centers at our Boston Main Campus and Stoneham locations for the same price. 

For patients who are interested in hearables, we offer a Communication Needs Assessment after a comprehensive hearing evaluation where we will introduce you to these devices based on your needs. 

For those who already use a hearable, we offer professional counseling, troubleshooting, and programming services to fit the device based on your hearing needs and to ensure that you are getting maximum benefit from your device.


Apps

There are many apps for your smartphone that can be useful for those who want to hear or communicate better. We know about these apps and recommend a select set of them. We will continue updating our recommendations as new apps are available and are evaluated by our team.

  • Ear Machine for iOS turns your iPhone into an assistive listening device. This free app enables you to use your iPhone (or iPad/iPod) to amplify and adjust sounds picked up by the phone or headphone microphone. You listen to the sound using plug-in headphones. This app does not work with Bluetooth headphones or on Android-powered devices.
  • Ava for iOS and for Android open captions. Ava uses your smartphone microphone to show you word by word what is said. The app is free to download and you can use it for free for a limited amount of time per month. You can also purchase an unlimited plan through the app.
  • Mimi Hearing Test for iOS and for Android is a self-hearing test. Unlike an audiogram that is used to diagnose hearing loss, a self-hearing test may be beneficial to compare your hearing to others’ and to track your hearing over time. Mimi Music for iOS and for Android uses this self-hearing test information to make your smartphone sound better.


Assistive Devices

There are also a variety of assistive devices that can alert you to sounds and alarms with light or vibration, amplify telephones or televisions, and remote microphones to help hear through noise. Assistive device resources: