PHOENIX -- Just as Lasik eye surgery has improved the lives of millions, a procedure new to the Valley is providing people with hearing loss the opportunity to have an improved quality of life.
"It's opened up the communication lines both professionally and personally," said LoriAnn Harnish, who had the procedure. "I've had some really awakening experiences in hearing things that I haven't heard for years, since I was a kid."
Harnish lost much of her hearing because of childhood illness. After utilizing dozens of hearing aids, Harnish was part of a clinical trial to test the Esteem Hearing Implant.
"I've got 90 percent of my hearing," she said.
The Esteem Hearing Implant is leading the way as the first FDA-approved technology to offer a permanent and invisible hearing solution. The system relies on the shape of the ear and the ear canal to collect sound, delivering a more natural sound quality than hearing aids.
Basically, a sound processor is implanted under the scalp, behind the ear. The processor is then wired to another component located in the middle ear.
The three-hour procedure is being offered by only one Valley specialist, Dr. Mark Syms, of the Arizona Ear Center.
"There is nothing like this on the market right now," said Syms. "The Esteem is the only FDA-approved, fully implanted, active middle ear hearing device available. Unlike conventional hearing aids, there are no external components and nothing in the ear canal, making it the only device of its kind available today."
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