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Success Stories, Traumatic Brain Injury

Janet’s Getting Her Life Back; Clint’s Getting His Wife Back

Thanks to Mind-Eye Brain Glasses, Her Cane and Wheelchair Are History

“She is getting her life back; I am getting my wife back,” according to grateful husband, Clint Smallwood, who says his wife Janet’s first visit to the Mind-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Ill., gave them both hope.

“I watched my wife experience several traumatic events and go from a confident, capable woman to someone who had to walk with a cane, be pushed in a wheelchair through grocery stores, and whose world would be turned upside down by fluorescent lights,” Clint relates. “We drove thousands of miles to see multiple doctors during the past five years with minimal success, until we came to the Mind-Eye Institute. The Mind-Eye showed us a light at the end of the tunnel. It gave us something solid to grasp.”

The couple particularly praise the efforts of Janet’s Mind-Eye optometrist Carla Adams OD, whom they call “a blessing.”

“Dr. Adams put me at ease. She was so gracious and reassured me I was not going crazy. My symptoms were not imagined,” Janet says.

Janet remembers her first visit to the Mind-Eye Institute. “Dr. Adams is giving me the Z-Bell Test™, which requires me to reach out with my eyes closed and touch a ringing bell with my finger. All the while, I am thinking, ‘how hard is this?’ but I cannot find the bell. I have the urge to put out my hand out and just grab it. Then, Dr. Adams places different lenses and color filters over my closed eyes and, suddenly, I am hitting the bell – right on. At that moment, Dr. Adams looks over at my husband and says, ‘See, we can help her,’” Janet recalls. “Almost instantly, I felt hope – the kind of hope that I had not experienced in nearly five years.”

The Mind-Eye team has achieved worldwide recognition for use of therapeutic eyeglasses, lenses, prisms, and filters to vary the amount, intensity, and angle of light that passes through the retina. The retina is part of the central nervous system and a primary portal through which information enters the brain.

“By manipulating light with eyeglasses – ‘brain’ glasses, we are often able to reduce symptoms and restore comfort to patients who need to rebuild visual processing skills compromised by brain injury, head trauma, stroke, and other neurological disorders,” says Deborah Zelinsky OD, the Mind-Eye Institute’s founder and executive director of research. “Our unique, scientific-based, patented, optometric testing; and advanced visual skill-building also help develop new processing capabilities in patients with dyslexia, attention disorders, and other learning deficiencies.”

Following the initial evaluation, “Dr. Adams diagnoses my problems as disrupted visual processing and lack of integration between eyes and ears, combined with symptoms of traumatic brain injury. She then prescribes my first pair of brain glasses,” says Janet, a former health insurance company representative whose symptoms forced her to leave her job.

“Visual processing skills are essential to all aspects of quality life,” Dr. Zelinsky emphasizes. “If central and peripheral eyesight fail to connect and interact properly or if eyesight and listening abilities are uncoordinated, then a patient’s ability to visualize is affected. People need the ability to visualize for many daily activities, including balance.”

The term “visual processing” refers to the brain’s almost-instantaneous ability – consciously and non-consciously – to take in external sensory signals (from eyesight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), combine them with a person’s internal sensory signals (such as head position and muscle tension) and then synthesize – process — the information, allowing a person to react and respond normally to his or her environment.

“People can become confused about their surrounding environment, have limited perception and awareness, and experience difficulties in learning, attention, reading, decision-making, posture, and balance when brain circuitry is not synchronized,” Dr. Zelinsky says.

Janet’s problems actually began about 15 years ago when her minivan was struck – “T-boned” — by a semitrailer truck. A year later, she was pushed accidentally against a file cabinet and sustained a concussion. “I began developing what I call ‘issues,’” she says. “When I talked, my words often came out backwards. I experienced brain fog; my thinking also was not as sharp as it once was. I used to be able to work easily with numbers and remember addresses and names, but I lost some of that.” Husband Clint agrees. “She just did not seem as sharp as she used to be after her accidents.”

Yet just when life seemed it could not get more complicated for Janet, it did.

“I awoke one morning in 2016, and found I had lost all balance,” she says. Doctors initially thought she was suffering an ear infection or a condition in which small crystals of calcium carbonate in the inner ear become displaced. But extensive testing showed she had none of these. “Meanwhile, I was getting sicker and sicker and sicker,” she states. Eventually, Janet was diagnosed as having vestibular neuritis, a disorder affecting the nerve of the inner ear.

Janet was prescribed medication and told by her physicians that the problem would likely improve within a matter of months. It didn’t.

“I was barely functioning. Simple walking became difficult. I had to walk wide-legged just to maintain my balance, and I would seemingly drift and stumble to the right. I could no longer drive a car. Everything around me seemed to be in motion, bouncing around 10 feet high. Even the shelves in the grocery store seemed to bounce. Standing was like trying to stand up on a boat in rough water. I had been an avid reader all my adult life but reading became near-impossible. I barely read two books in four years. I lost focus and became seriously light-sensitive,” Janet says.

“For her to walk down the hallway in our house, she had to place her hands on the walls on either side and feel her way to the bathroom or bedroom,” Clint remembers.

Janet’s break came when she learned about the Mind-Eye Institute through an online vestibular neuritis group. Although somewhat skeptical, she scheduled an appointment – an appointment that would soon launch her on a journey back to relief and normalcy.

Her first pair of therapeutic Mind-Eye glasses “took some time to get used to wearing,” Janet recalls, but she stuck with it. “I did not notice any immediate effects from the glasses, but my husband said I seemed to be acting differently — better.”

Small changes eventually became larger improvements during 2021, and today the cane and wheelchair are history. Janet says she is about 70 percent back to her normal self. Most importantly, she is driving a car again – “I can drive as long as two hours” – and has returned to her joy of reading. “I have already read nine or 10 books just during the past six months,” she says.

And she is eagerly awaiting spring when she can plant her flower beds again, and mow – “yes, mow; I love mowing. I was mowing five acres before I got sick.” She also looks forward to providing care and attention to her three horses, including one miniature horse which is “only knee-high.”

“Mind-Eye has made such a difference in my life,” Janet concludes. “Without the staff there and Dr. Adams, I would have been unable to do anything but simply exist. Now, I get to live again. I am so grateful.”

Although Janet Smallwood is progressively enjoying symptom relief, her experience is not always the norm nor is it guaranteed for every patient. Check out the Mind-Eye Institute website at for additional information.