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Traumatic Brain Injury, Media, Success Stories

Brain Traumas ‘Flatten’ Her World; Mind-Eye Restores 3-D

Car Crash Victim Praises Optometrists for Giving Her Hope – And a Goal

Overcoming Brain Traumas with the Mind-Eye Institute

Heather George recalls her life had become “small and completely overwhelming” because of the relentless symptoms from her two head injuries. That is until she met Carla Adams, OD, an optometrist at the Mind-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Illinois. Dr. Adams set Heather a goal and provided a strategy to achieve it.

“Dr. Adams gave me hope. While other professionals talked about simply managing my symptoms, Dr. Adams’ focus was on getting me well,” Heather relates. “Her commitment was huge. For me, it was more than life-changing; it was lifesaving.”

Multiple Brain Injuries Lead to Multiple Symptoms

Two car crashes – 2012 and 2014 -- and two resulting brain injuries had eventually forced Heather from continuing her high-performing executive career work as a communications consultant and instructional designer in the Minneapolis area. She developed severe migraine headaches; eyesight disturbances, including double vision; light and sound sensitivities; balance problems; difficulties conversing; and a significant decline in memory, reading and reading comprehension.

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“In reality, my three-dimensional world had become flat. I could not get anything in my life to fit together.”

“Loud sounds would affect my balance, for example. Sometimes, the sound would even prevent me from walking or standing.”

In reality, “my three-dimensional world had become flat. I could not get anything in my life to fit together,” she says. “I had to set the stove timer just to remember to do the simplest tasks, even bring the dog back into the house.”

The 3-D Vision Restoration Journey: A New Hope

During her first visit to Mind-Eye, “I tested at a third-grade level in reading. Here I had been training people in instructional methodology and computer applications and constructing technical documentation, and now I was reduced to reading at a level that I first attained when I was 5 and 6 years old,” she says.

Heather’s association with the Mind-Eye Institute began in 2021, nearly 10 years after her first traumatic brain injury (TBI). “The first thing Dr. Adams said to me when I entered her office was ‘I am so sorry all this has happened to you.’ What a powerful comment. She had empathy for me as a human being. I was not just another patient.”

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“Brain adaptations were helping me cope but exhausting all my resources.

When I came to Mind-Eye, I had to try breaking old brain habits in order to develop new informational pathways in my brain.”

That 10-year lag between her TBI and first visit to the Mind-Eye Institute did prove initially daunting for Heather, who was about age 40 at the time of the first crash. “I continued working my 10-, 12-hour days after the accident, until I couldn’t any longer. My brain developed workarounds to keep me going, but, neurologically, those workarounds were only supporting – not repairing – my foundation. Dr. Adams told me my brain adaptations were helping me cope but exhausting all my resources. When I came to Mind-Eye, I had to try breaking old brain habits in order to develop new informational pathways in my brain.”

Breakthrough Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation

And that is exactly what the Mind-Eye Institute team is noted worldwide for doing – helping build better brains. The Institute’s clinical successes involve use of individualized lenses, filters, prisms, and other optical interventions to stimulate the retina with light. 

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“Varying the amount, intensity, or angle of light passing through the retina affects how the brain interprets and reacts to information about the environment and can impact a person’s spatial awareness, body movement and selective attention to sound,” says Mind-Eye founder and executive research director Deborah Zelinsky, OD.

Indeed, the retina is an extension of brain tissue and serves as a vital component of the central nervous system. Environmental signals (in the form of light) enter the retina and convert to electrical signals, which propagate through neurons and interact with key brain structures. These retinal signals affect not only the visual cortex for eyesight but other, significant regions of the brain as well, Dr. Zelinsky explains.

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About the Science

The Mind-Eye team is using the principles of advanced optometric science, including retinal stimulation with light to modulate neural circuits in patients and address symptoms of brain trauma, stroke, and other neurological disorders.

Changes in how the retain processes environmental signals both image-forming and non-image-forming - through variations in the way light passes through it influence both physical and mental health. The brain is plastic - able to change and regenerate in response to injury and neurological disorders.

"Ghost in My Brain Prompted Her to Call


Heather actually first learned about the work of the Mind-Eye Institute in 2016 when she heard about the book Ghost in My Brain, authored by DePaul University professor Clark Elliott, Ph.D. In it, Dr. Elliott details his eight years of struggles following a head injury in a car crash and describes how he found relief through Dr. Zelinsky’s efforts and through Donalee Markus PhD, founder and president of Designs for Strong Minds in Highland Park, Illinois. 

“But I was not ready to go that route at the time. I kept thinking the book’s author had been more disabled than I was. I just thought I would figure a way out.”

As of 2020, Heather realized she had “no exit strategy” from her dilemma. By that time, too, an audio version of Ghost in My Brain had become available, providing her more information than what she had been able to glean from the written version due to her diminished reading capabilities.

“The many visits to specialists and the multiple treatments I had been undergoing would alleviate some of my symptoms for a while, but then those symptoms would creep back. Basically, people were telling me I would not improve. I had to do something.” So, Heather called the Mind-Eye Institute.

Punctal Plugs, Therapeutic Glasses, and Measured Improvements

“At my first visit, Dr. Adams inserted punctal plugs in my eyes,” Heather says. Punctal plugs are miniature devices placed in the tear ducts of the eyes. “The plugs immediately helped relax my sympathetic [nervous] system.” The sympathetic nerve network is what activates a person’s fight-or-flight response to danger or stress.

Heather’s first pair of Mind-Eye glasses proved no magic solution for her symptoms. Neither did her second nor third pairs, to which she became accustomed in tiny, daily increments over a two-year period. “I was not deterred. By my fourth pair of glasses, I was noticing measurable physical and neurological changes – positive changes.” They included enhancement of her visual processing skills and calming of her fight-or-flight nervous system.

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“By my fourth pair of glasses, I was noticing measurable physical and neurological changes – positive changes."

“Today, I feel so much better. I was once a workaholic, but I have had to learn to rev my engine – not flood it. The workarounds that my brain created through a decade of coping have to be first broken -- untaught -- before I can fully recover. I have learned and accepted it as a gradual process. I am improving by degrees.”

In the words of French Bishop Francis de Sales, Have patience with all things, but first of all yourself.

Although Heather George 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.