The application of photonics to manipulate and stimulate neurons and to study neural networks has gained momentum over the last decade. Two general methods have been used: the genetic expression of light or temperature sensitive ion channels in the plasma membrane of neurons (Optogenetics and Thermogenetics) and the direct stimulation of neurons using infrared radiation (Infrared Neural Stimulation, INS). Both approaches have their strengths and challenges, which are well understood with a profound understanding of the light tissue interaction(s). This paper compares the opportunities of the methods for the use in cochlear prostheses. Ample data are already available on the stimulation of the cochlea with INS. The data show that the stimulation is selective, feasible at rates that would be sufficient to encode acoustic information and may be beneficial over conventional pulsed electrical stimulation. A third approach, using lasers in stress confinement to generate pressure waves and to stimulate the functional cochlea mechanically will also be discussed.