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Success Stories, Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain-Changing Lenses Help Unlock Patient’s Artistic Talent

Mind-Eye Founder Not Surprised; Says Light Stimulates New Brain Pathways

“Who would have ever imagined that eyeglasses could begin to heal what felt like a million broken pieces, but indeed they have,” says Sharon Mundy, a brain-injured patient from Sullivan, Illinois, who is experiencing an “extraordinary journey back to health.” Even more surprising, she has acquired the ability “to draw like a professional artist” after wearing therapeutic brain lenses prescribed by the Mind-Eye Institute.

“I had been able to draw only stick figures, previously. But now, since receiving the [Mind-Eye] glasses, I have been sketching and painting in a whole new way. I created almost 200 original art pieces in just a couple of months.”

“Surprising, but, again, not so surprising,” says Deborah Zelinsky OD, founder and research director of the Mind-Eye Institute (www.mindeye.com) in Northbrook, Illinois. “Depending on a patient’s needs, our ‘brain’ glasses alter the intensity, amount, or angle of light passing through the eye’s retina. And both science and clinical experience are telling us that using alterations of light to stimulate the retina, which is an extension of brain tissue, can modulate brain function and promote development of new brain pathways.”

Dr. Zelinsky recalls another patient who began composing songs and playing the keyboard after receiving highly individualized “brain” glasses, even though the patient had lacked musical talent prior to the head injury that eventually led her to the Mind-Eye Institute.

Retinal cells generate electrical signals from environmental light. These signals propagate through neurons and interact with critical brain structures, affecting not just the visual cortex for eyesight but other, significant regions of the brain as well, like the limbic system and brainstem.

“The right mix of prescriptive lenses, filters and prisms affects the spatial and temporal distribution of light on the retina, thereby modifying the dynamic relationship between the mind’s visual inputs and the body’s internal reactions and responses to both image-forming and non-image forming signals. The implication is that retinal stimulation can intentionally promote customized changes in a patient’s basic physical, physiological, and even psychological systems involved in metabolism, motor control, posture, mood, circadian rhythms, and decision-making abilities,” Dr. Zelinsky indicates.

Indeed, these “customized changes” to the brain are what oftentimes bring relief to patients experiencing the headaches, brain fog, and concentration and attention difficulties due to brain injury or genetic mutations and disease, Dr. Zelinsky notes.

“When I went to my second appointment at Mind-Eye, I was excited to share my new-found ability to draw, all the time thinking they would say, ‘Oh, that happens to many of our patients,’ but they did not,” Sharon says. “Instead, the entire team wanted to hear more about the changes I was experiencing, and they loved my art. Testing showed that my depth perception had already improved an enormous amount since my first appointment.”

Actually, Sharon’s story begins in November 2016 when she sustained a mild traumatic brain injury while working as a dental hygienist. After reaching down to pick up something from the floor, she turned around to stand up and unexpectedly slammed her head and face against an open cabinet door. “I did not pass out, so I assumed I did not sustain a concussion. I felt dazed but chose to push through my work day,” she recalls.

Sharon says she relied on her medical knowledge from 30 years as a health care provider, combined with her former training as a field medic supporting the Marines. “Many of us are trained to believe that brain injury or concussion means someone passes out or goes into a coma, but I realize now that is not necessarily so.” Within a few days following her injury, she began developing “odd symptoms,” which eventually prevented her from continuing to work.

“I consistently felt dizzy, nauseated, fatigued, disoriented, and had the overwhelming sensation of falling from an airplane. It was hard to understand what was happening, but certain tasks became excruciatingly difficult. I would suddenly leave a store in the middle of shopping because I would become so overstimulated by the lights, sounds, and movements. Driving became a terrifying experience. Every car seemed to be coming at me more than once,” Sharon relates.

Meanwhile, “the executive function of my brain was becoming impaired, making it impossible for me to visualize the steps of simple, daily routines like brushing my teeth. My ability to complete tasks that were sequential or linear in nature or required decision-making seemed missing [from my mental toolbox]. I could only focus on one function at a time. If I were doing one thing and was asked to focus on another, my mind would simply go blank.”

Sharon first learned about Dr. Zelinsky through a brief conversation with a brain-injury coach, who also referred her to The Ghost in My Brain, written by DePaul University professor Clark Elliott, Ph.D.
In the book, Dr. Elliott details his eight years of struggles following a head injury in a car crash and describes how he found relief through Designs for Strong Minds in Highland Park, Illinois, and the Mind-Eye Institute.

Sharon recalls being elated after making the first phone call to the Mind-Eye Institute: “Instead of the usual response – the feeling others had no understanding of my invisible injury, each symptom I shared with the Mind-Eye team was met with empathy.”

Sharon underwent a battery of tests during her initial Mind-Eye visit. “Dr. Zelinsky told me what was happening to my brain – how it was impacting my balance and posture,” Sharon says. “She also indicated that both my peripheral and central eyesight were impaired, and that the brain pathways regulating who I am, where I am in space, and how I function had been disrupted by my injury.”

“Peripheral eyesight is highly utilized in our modernized society of busy traffic, flashing signs, crowded stores, moving displays, and scrolling on computer screens. The Mind-Eye Institute is devoted to developing – and applying – advanced optometric methods for assessing peripheral eyesight and brain function, with emphasis on the often-untested linkage between eyes and ears,” Dr. Zelinsky says.

When intact, visual processing enables people to understand and interact appropriately with the world around them. If brain circuitry is out of sync because it has been disrupted by trauma or disease or is underdeveloped, people can become confused about their surrounding environment and exhibit inappropriate reactions and responses. If eyes and ears are not integrated, people have to continuously shift attention, and that effort becomes exhausting, Dr. Zelinsky explains.

“Eye-ear integration is the concept underlying our clinical work and experience at the Mind-Eye Institute. How a patient visually perceives sound location has to match with where the patient perceives visual target locations,” Dr. Zelinsky states.

Sharon says from the moment she began wearing her first pair of Mind-Eye glasses, she found almost instant relief from many of her debilitating symptoms. Her pain and sensitivity to light and sound declined, and she was again able to plan and complete tasks without fatigue. “My entire body started to get back in sync again,” she states.

Sharon now refers to Dr. Zelinsky as “a revolutionary genius on the cutting edge of science and medicine. She is able to find and circumvent the pathways in the brain that have been broken; what a game-changer.”

“My entire experience with the Mind-Eye has been nothing short of a miracle!”

Although Sharon Mundy reports progressive symptom relief, her experience is not always the norm, nor is it guaranteed for every patient. Check out the Mind-Eye Institute at www.mindeye.com for additional information.