Hearing aids can now be purchased over the counter without a prescription, exam or fitting. The FDA says the policy change will make auditory helpers more accessible to the general public.
Non-prescription hearing aids will soon be available at major retailers including Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Best Buy. This will eventually save millions of Americans billions of dollars.
“The average cost of a pair of hearing aids in the past was about $4,500. So to put that in perspective, that means for the average American a pair of hearing aids is the third largest material purchase after a house and a car,” says Dr. Frank Lin, director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health.
Experts say leaving hearing loss untreated could be detrimental to overall health. Some studies have shown some links to dementia, poorer mental health and increased risks of falls.
Officials say the hearing aids will be available to U.S. shoppers with mild to moderate hearing loss over the age of 18. Those with more severe hearing loss as well as those younger than 18 will still need prescription hearing aids.