What Are Invisible Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids come in a wide range of shapes, styles and colors. Invisible hearing aids, also known as completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids or invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids, are tiny, lightweight assistive devices that are virtually impossible to see while being worn. This style of hearing aid is best suited to individuals with mild-to-moderate hearing loss who are looking for a discrete, high-tech way to optimize their hearing.
In this guide, we look at the pros and cons of wearing invisible hearing aids and what these devices cost. We also highlight three of the best invisible hearing aids available to consumers.
What Are the Benefits of Wearing Hearing Aids That Are Invisible?
While all hearing aids are designed to help users manage their hearing loss, many hearing aids are quite visible to others, and that can make some people avoid using a hearing aid altogether.
Invisible hearing aids are gaining popularity, particularly among first-time hearing aid users because these tiny devices are very difficult for others to see, even when worn by an individual with short or no hair.
Some of the benefits of wearing invisible hearing aids include:
- CICs and IICs are discrete. Because invisible hearing aids sit inside the ear canal, they’re virtually undetectable.
- Invisible hearing aids deliver clear, natural sounds. Since the microphone, speaker and sound processor all sit inside the ear canal, the sound quality of CICs and IICs is often superior to that of behind-the-ear hearing aids.
- Invisible hearing aids are comfortable. Users report that this type of hearing aid helps to eliminate the discomfort of occlusion, a condition that occurs when externally mounted hearing aids vibrate between the earmold and the sound processor case.
What Are the Disadvantages of Invisible Hearing Aids?
Although there are a number of notable advantages that come with invisible hearing aids, it’s important to understand the disadvantages as well. These include:
- Only suited to those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Because invisible hearing aids are tiny, they aren’t able to provide the level of amplification that’s often needed to assist those living with severe or profound hearing loss.
- Can’t support multiple microphones. Larger behind-the-ear hearing aids are often equipped with multiple microphones to enhance sound processing, particularly in noisy environments like restaurants or bars. Invisible hearing aids only have one microphone that’s designed to focus on sounds in front of the wearer.
- Limited battery life. Since CICs and IICs are tiny, they can only accommodate a very small battery. This means that the batteries in this type of hearing aid need to be replaced much more frequently than the batteries in a larger hearing aid.
- Difficult to manage for those with dexterity issues. Users who have arthritic hands, suffer from conditions that cause tremors, or have poor eyesight may find it hard to insert and clean invisible hearing aids. Battery replacement can be a challenge as well.
How Much Do Invisible Hearing Aids Cost?
As with all hearing aid styles, there’s a wide range of pricing when it comes to invisible hearing aids. In general, CIC and IIC hearing aids tend to cost more than basic behind-the-ear hearing aids because invisible hearing aids are more expensive to manufacture.
Invisible hearing aids are sold either on a per-ear basis or in pairs. Prices start at under $1,000 per device and range upward, with some models selling for $4,000 or more. Out-of-pocket costs also depend on whether or not the purchaser has health insurance that covers invisible hearing aids.
What Are the Best Invisible Hearing Aids?
Of the dozens of invisible and discreet hearing aids on the market today, here are our picks for the three best models based on performance, user reviews, and features.
The Audicus Aura is a CIC hearing aid that’s powered with a size-10 disposable hearing aid battery. While it lacks Bluetooth connectivity, it does offer noise and feedback reduction to enhance audio clarity, and the sound processor automatically adapts to optimize sound amplification based on the wearer’s environment.
Eargo Neo HiFi
Sold in pairs, the Neo HiFi from Eargo is an invisible hearing aid designed to deliver exceptional sound quality both indoors and out. Powered by built-in rechargeable batteries, the Neo HiFi is equipped with active noise and feedback cancellation, while the innovative Flexi TetraPalm replaceable earmolds are designed to allow natural airflow through the ear canal.
The Phonak Lyric is a unique discrete CIC hearing aid that’s inserted by a licensed audiologist. It’s designed to be worn around the clock for multiple months at a time, and while it’s safe to leave in while showering, the device isn’t waterproof and can’t be submerged in water. When the battery needs replacement, users must visit their hearing professional to have the hearing aid removed.