I have just been fitted with new silicone moulds (vented) to replace ones that I have been wearing for over 7 years (non-vented).
The difference between the old non-vented moulds and the new vented ones is quite remarkable. Every time I put in the hearing aids with the old moulds, they would squawk and squeal for a few seconds because of the poor fit (shrinkage). But if I shoved them in so as to provide a proper seal, the occlusion effect made them intolerable for use in normal conversation.
The new ones fit tightly enough so there is no squeal when I insert them and turn the aids on. And the addition of the vents reduce the occlusion effect to the point where I can carry out a normal conversation with relative ease. Apparently there is a mathematical table to work out the proper length and width of the vent so as to reduce certain frequencies (in my case lower vocal range). My audiologist did a great job with this.
Another benefit is that since my Ambra SL aids don’t need to adjust to feedback squeal, they do not need to cut off any of the higher frequencies at start up. So I am now for the first time able to benefit from the full spectrum of sound that the aids provide.
As for replacing them annually, I hope not. They are very expensive to make. As long as they are cleaned daily (I use antiseptic moist wipes) and the ears are kept clean and healthy, there should be no problem. All that needs to be replaced are those darn tubes that harden up and turn brittle every 6 months (because the medication I have to take reacts with the vinyl of the tubing).