Saturday, May 15, 2021

Eyes and ears are our window to the world, and when they aren’t functioning properly our lives are severely impacted. Dr. Daniel Stegman opened New Jersey Eye and Ear to modernize treatment for visual and hearing health for adults and children. He recruited top physicians, all nominated as top doctors in their fields, with privileges at area hospitals. The center’s convenient location in downtown Englewood makes visits more accessible and less intimidating. An optical boutique for adults on the first floor, and one for children on the second floor, carry most brands and have choices for any budget. The fully sanitized center is open for appointments, including Sunday hours, and all staff wear protective masks, gloves, shields and robes. NJ Eye and Ear also has a location in Clifton.

We spoke with a few of the specialists and NJ Eye and Ear to give you a better understanding of the types of conditions NJ Eye and Ear diagnoses and treats:

Dr. Yonah Orlofsky, director of audiology

When should you get your hearing checked?

We recommend getting a baseline checkup beginning at age 50. A hearing loss should be detected and diagnosed as early as possible. We process speech information with our brain, not with our ear, and when hearing loss goes untreated, there is auditory deprivation, the loss of ability to discriminate between words.

Hearing is like a muscle that you need to use consistently to perform well. If you let it go, the ability to understand gets weaker. Hearing loss can cause a host of other physical, emotional, social and psychological issues. When you don’t hear well, the brain doesn’t function well. You are more prone to cognitive problems like memory loss and Alzheimer’s. Individuals with untreated hearing loss are also at increased risk for experiencing isolation, falls and depression.

What are common symptoms of hearing loss?

People’s voices sound muffled. You may find yourself asking people to repeat themselves and straining to hear, often guessing what they are saying. You may experience hearing difficulty in a room with a lot of background noise, or have trouble with the dialogue on television or radio. Another symptom of hearing loss is ringing in the ears, called tinnitus.

The pandemic has made more people aware of their hearing loss. Many people look at lips to help understand speech. When masks cover mouths, it is even more difficult to understand what someone is saying.

How is hearing loss diagnosed and treated?

We do several hearing tests and take measurements with specialized equipment to understand the type and degree of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is when the hair cells in the inner ear begin to weaken or die out. While we can’t return the cells to normal functioning, or regenerate them, a hearing device helps by filling in the missing sounds. Medical conditions can also cause hearing loss, such as an infection. In that case, we refer to our ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist for medical treatment.

How do hearing devices help?

We customize the prescription of amplification based on the patient’s unique hearing loss configuration. Hearing devices have improved dramatically in the last few years. With the introduction of digital technology, hearing devices can respond to changes in the environment, such as noisy backgrounds, either automatically or with programs the user can access. Hearing devices are also smaller and more comfortable than ever before. Bluetooth connectivity enables volume control and streams phone calls and other media directly into the devices with a clear, direct signal. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries eliminate the need to change disposable batteries.

There are many different types of hearing devices. Once our testing and measurements quantify a person’s hearing loss, we can look at what devices are best for their hearing ability and lifestyle. We fit, follow up and measure. When you know how to use the device properly, and feel comfortable with the fit and sound quality, you get the best results.

Dr. Kevin Ende, director of otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat)

If someone thinks they have hearing loss, should they see you first or an audiologist?

I work closely with our audiologists. I see patients with hearing issues first to see if they have built up wax that has to be removed, or any other issues, before they have their hearing tested.

When should someone with a cough or allergy see you?

Patients with sinus issues, coughs, sore throats or allergies often come to me after they’ve tried home remedies without success.

We do comprehensive allergy testing, which has gotten much easier for patients. It’s not like the old days when you had a series of shots. Now we press a stamper into the skin and can test for each allergen from the environment. For environmental allergies like grasses, mold and dust, we have specific medications for each allergy that can be taken under the tongue instead of getting allergy shots.

What other conditions do you diagnose and treat?

In addition to medication for sinus problems, we can now treat several sinus conditions that used to require surgery with an in-office balloon sinuplasty. We treat adults and children for chronic tonsil and ear infections, voice problems and head and neck cancer.

We also treat sleep apnea, which used to require an overnight stay at a specialized sleep center. Now we can give patients the equipment for a sleep study to bring home so they can stay in their own beds. CPAP devices used to require a sleep lab to ensure the correct pressure, but newer devices adjust by themselves and are typically covered by insurance. Surgical options for sleep apnea are also offered.

Dizziness, or vertigo, is a condition that can stem from a problem in the ear. We have equipment to test where the dizziness problem is coming from and determine treatment, including physical therapy and medication.

Dr. Adria Burrows,
Director of the Pediatric Center

Do children need eye exams if nothing is bothering them?

I have seen many conditions missed by parents, pediatricians and schools. That’s why I recommend starting eye exams at age 4.

What conditions do you see most in children?

When something is bothering a young child, he may not let you know. Being nearsighted or farsighted is the most common condition that brings children to me but there are others. Amblyopia, or lazy eye must be corrected or it can result in loss of vision. We check for this in our office. I’m also noticing a higher incidence of glaucoma in children, which is often asymptomatic. Glaucoma is high pressure in the eye, which can be present in a child without being felt. Viral conjunctivitis, as opposed to the more common pink eye, can be a symptom of COVID-19.

Today, almost 80% of children are nearsighted. One contributing factor is the amount of blue rays emitted by device screens. A new coating, Blu-Tech, can be put on glasses to stop the blue rays from computers going into a child’s eyes. I have seen it slow down and prevent myopia, nearsightedness.

Eye health is important at any age. Get checked!

For more information about New Jersey Eye and Ear, please visit www.njeyeandear.com. New Jersey Eye and Ear is located 23 West Palisade Avenue, Englewood, (201)408-4441 and at 1016 Main Avenue, Clifton, (973)546-5700.