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Success Stories, Traumatic Brain Injury

‘Brain Glasses’ Get Her Back to Work – And ‘Back to Life’

Mind-Eye Institute Has ‘Positively Impacted Every Aspect of My Life’

Doctors diagnosed Marilyn Gilliam as having a concussion and prescribed medications to address her symptoms. But what actually got this Texas resident back to work – and back to life – was a pair of “brain” glasses prescribed by optometrists at the Mind-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Ill.

“I still have a way to go [in my recovery],” Marilyn says, “but just to be back working – and working longer without having to nap – is so wonderful. I am most grateful to the Mind-Eye.”

She says Mind-Eye optometrists Dan Myers OD and Deborah Zelinsky OD determined her problem to be “hypersensitive peripheral receptors in the eyes.”

“Hypersensitive peripheral eyesight causes stress and anxiety, because it activates the startle reflex and keeps a person in fight-or-flight mode,” says Dr. Zelinsky, founder and executive director of research for the Mind-Eye Institute.

Dr. Zelinsky and her Mind-Eye team emphasize the frequently untested linkage between eyes and ears. If these senses are out of synchronization, a person’s visual processing capabilities and posture are affected. Without intact visual processing, patients like Marilyn cannot respond appropriately to the changes constantly occurring in their surrounding environment. Deficient visualization and sensory synchronization can prompt a variety of debilitating symptoms – vertigo, headaches, light and sound sensitivities, anxiousness and stress, attention and comprehension problems, an inability to read and interact normally in social situations, and, oftentimes, a general feeling of “not being myself.”

The Mind-Eye Institute helps rebuild – or develop – patients’ visual processing skills by prescribing highly individualized, therapeutic “brain” glasses. “Brain” glasses balance the activity between central and peripheral receptors in the retina, which is made up of brain tissue, and improve the synchronization between hearing and seeing by changing the way light passes through the retina. Angling light in different ways on the retina can lead to creation of new informational pathways in the brain, Dr. Zelinsky explains.

Marilyn’s descent from a peak of activity and energy as a thriving information technology (IT) professional to someone who could not even make a pot of coffee and spent much of the day in bed “watching the clouds go by” ostensibly begins with a July 2019 fall on an Oklahoma street. “I did not see the curb and stumbled, hitting my face on the asphalt just above the left eye,” she says. But, in reality, Marilyn, now in her late 50s, thinks that head injury was simply the latest in “a string of concussions during my lifetime,” including one she believes she sustained in a 2012 car crash.

Following her Oklahoma fall, Marilyn was evaluated at a nearby hospital and determined as “maybe having a concussion.” She returned to her home near Dallas feeling “surprisingly good.” But the “good” did not last long. “Within a few days, my eyesight began changing. I was seeing double, and my boss at work told me that the emails I was sending did not make sense,” she says. An area neurologist confirmed her concussion and told Marilyn to do nothing for a couple weeks, “but my symptoms went downhill from there,” she says.

Marilyn developed sensitivity to sound – “hearing people talking felt like an explosion in my head,” constant headaches, dizziness, and unremitting fatigue. “I could not think, I could not read, I could no longer drive or ride in a car – I was overstimulated; I was unable to tolerate motion.” And she refers to her emotions as “crazy.”

“I had no emotion-control. My husband said that living with me was akin to living with a live grenade. He never knew when I would go off,” she recalls.

Grocery shopping proved to be a “real nightmare” as well. “I would stand in the store cereal aisle, for example, looking up and down the shelves, unable to figure out what kind of cereal to buy,” she says.

Worse, she could no longer do simple tasks, such as laundry or cooking. “I was always forgetting to add some needed ingredient to the food I was preparing,” she says. “Finally, I just gave up.”

Most importantly, Marilyn found herself unable to problem-solve or make the kinds of executive decisions required by her company position.

“I could not follow conversations on conference calls. A half-hour phone conversation with my boss would so tire me that I would need a four-hour nap,” says Marilyn, who was working from home only about two hours each day as a result of her symptoms. Eventually, she began feeling a bit better and was able to push up her work schedule to about four hours a day, “but that was the most I could do. I even tried driving to work a couple days a week, but that would completely drain my energy. I would go straight to bed after returning home. Sleep was my friend.”

For Marilyn, the turnaround in this chaos began in January 2020. Thanks to her participation in a traumatic brain injury and post-concussive discussion group on Facebook, she learned about the 2015 book Ghost in My Brain, written by Clark Elliott PhD. Dr. Elliott struggled for eight years with the aftermath of a head injury before finding symptomatic relief through the Mind-Eye Institute and Designs for Strong Minds.

Marilyn listened to parts of the book in audio format. “I understood what Dr. Elliott was describing – his sensitivities, his fears in group situations. Like him, there were times when I would come out of a room in my home and momentarily wonder ‘Where am I?’” Marilyn relates.

She made an appointment with the Mind-Eye Institute following diagnosis by another neurologist who blamed her symptoms on depression. After undergoing extensive Mind-Eye testing, which some patients describe as “different,” “weird,” and “atypical,” Marilyn was prescribed two sets of tinted filters, to be worn just a few seconds daily, and a pair of “brain” glasses.

“It took several weeks to get used to the glasses, but I began noticing small but steady improvements and then eventually huge differences,” she says. “My thinking improved; my energy increased. I began to cook again. I was able to put something on the table that was edible. During this past [2020] Thanksgiving holiday, I even managed a simple meal of turkey, stuffing, and potatoes.”

Especially exhilarating for Marilyn, now wearing her second prescribed pair of “brain” glasses, has been the return of her ability to “contribute” to an array of projects at work. “I can again follow conversations in conference calls and meetings. I am consistently working up to eight hours a day and sustaining that level of energy. I am able to make decisions and give my project teams instructions.” She also is “driving a car without experiencing headaches and not spending the better part of a day sleeping.

“Everything for me has improved,” Marilyn adds. “The Mind-Eye Institute has had a positive impact on every aspect of my life. I may not be all the way back yet, but I am getting there, and that in itself is simply amazing.”