The Question That Is Always Asked In all the years I have practiced audiology, there has been one constant. It’s a question, and that question is one I’m sure all audiologists have been confronted with. Patients always ask me why I can’t fix their hearing like an optometrist corrects vision. It’s a fair question, but the answer is not easy to explain. I typically provide them with an explanation of the changes that have occurred within the focal point of the eye itself. Like adjusting the lens on a projector, glasses change the distance and refraction of the images coming into an eye. Glasses, therefore, solve the puzzle. However, hearing loss is a little more complicated. I tell my patients that the cause of a reduction in hearing can be related to a medical problem affecting the outer or middle ear. An infection or fluids within the middle ear can cause a transmission problem, harming the tiny bones inside the middle ear. In light of this, the pressure placed upon the eardrum causes a decrease in sensitivity. Most of these medical problems can be corrected, resulting in the reintroduction of normal hearing ranges. Still, early detection and treatment is imperative with these conditions. The correction of this type of loss is not as easy as just making things louder. It may involve modifying the sounds to augment the signal from a loudness and frequency standpoint. Noise exposure may have totally destroyed certain regions of the hearing organ, and the brain may have to learn how to interpret old sounds in new ways. It becomes more of a process combined with a product, as opposed to a product simply providing a solution. Furthermore, sounds that fall within a dead area of the hearing organ sometimes have to be electronically moved to a different region where audibility still exists. Even then, the ear may not be able to be brought back to its normal state due to damage inflicted by noise or disease. You see, comparing the correction of hearing to that of vision is not as simple as it may sound. While results with new technology are always improving, one needs to be realistic with what improvements can be made to their hearing. Audiologists are trained to understand all types and causes of hearing loss, and can direct you to the most favorable chance of improved hearing. With an open mind and realistic expectations, you will be able to notice results in your hearing. It’s not going to be as easy as throwing on a pair of glasses, but it is going to make a difference. That answer is what I give my patients. It’s not what they want to hear. It’s merely the best answer I can give them at this point in time. I will continue to be asked why hearing can’t be fixed like seeing can, as I’m sure every audiologist will. My hope is that some day, my answer really will be as simple as the question that is asked.