By Erika Glover ; iReport by AP
The the Board of Safeguards is expected to propose rules to limit imports of most protective earplugs for the eyes.
However, that is hardly the main focus of this morning’s National Eye Institute report.
Even as the government agency continues work to increase funding for operations, the the Board of Safeguards is likely to recommend new rules on earplugs for most Americans who can’t find a suitable replacement for their shoes, belt buckles, cushioned visors, scarves, glasses, shapewear, brogues and new footwear.
“One of the biggest ways in which Americans miss out on vital goods like cloth, socks, handbags, belts, eyeglasses and chairs is because they must buy protective earplugs,” said Sandra MacDiarmid, president and CEO of the National Eye Institute. “The Board of Safeguards’s latest recommendation provides a road map for parents, teachers, hospitals and others who need to know how to stock protective earplugs for children, pregnant women and others, while increasing safety for millions of Americans.”
The recommendations are likely to go into effect in late summer or early fall.
Perhaps the easiest hearing aid to remember is a pair of hearing aid-like earplugs.
It doesn’t take too much learning to learn that earplugs reduce the sound pressure level in your ear.
“This helps you get a more accurate assessment of hearing, but it also can cut down noise exposure,” said Dr. Ramana Prabhu, a UC Irvine Hospital otolaryngologist and an accredited hearing health care provider.
Prabhu said hearing loss is one of the most common chronic conditions in the country and the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 million Americans have severe to profound hearing loss.
The recommendations will cover most Americans, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to anyone older than 65 or to people younger than 18.
Many people mistakenly associate regular hearing loss with aging, but you can have hearing loss caused by pollution, prolonged noise exposure, ear infections, ear pressure changes, a viral infection or a medical condition such as age-related macular degeneration or a tumor or cancer.
“Dementia, diabetes and a weakened immune system all cause hearing loss.
Also, premature births or birth defects in the placenta cause hearing loss,” Prabhu said.
Hearing loss can have major physical and medical consequences, as hearing loss is also associated with a decreased lifespan.
“The more you listen to hard sounds, the faster your hearing deteriorates,” Prabhu said. “People who experience hearing loss often think it’s the end of the world.
“Hearing loss is one of the most progressive conditions that can be treated,” he said. “However, if hearing loss is severe and related to age, there is a lot of stigma associated with it.
“It’s time to face the fact that hearing loss is a life-changing condition,” Prabhu said. “You don’t want to experience your friend or family member dropping the ball, losing a loved one or losing your hearing.”
Sara Reardon, who was identified by her disability trust fund at age 85, lived alone and struggled to communicate.
When she was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2016, Prabhu saw an opportunity to intervene.
Prabhu said the GLAS had previously provided GMEA with $3 million to purchase hearing aids in addition to a hearing aid, as long as an approved earplug was also purchased.
At the time, the GLAS had an old hearing aid, and using newer audio technology, “we felt it was a good opportunity to help people like Sara regain the ability to communicate, so she could care for herself and be more independent,” Prabhu said.
Prabhu said Prabhu replaced the outdated hearing aid with a new direct-feed hearing aid and was able to communicate well with older people and health care professionals.
“Winsome and delighted,” Prabhu said.
The special device (which the board recommends that retailers sell in opaque packaging that prevents accidental exposure) has microphones to help patients hear, clickers to operate to turn the user off the hearing aid, and an adjustable in-ear magnet for easy personal use.
Other earplugs recommended in the board’s report included “personal audio preamps” (MAPs) with an integrated hearing aid “and simple earplugs,” an array of medical hearing aids and other specialized equipment.
While most people diagnosed with mild hearing loss typically receive an earphone to be placed in the mouth, many individuals need hearing aids and can’t