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Carla D. Adams, ‘Wants More for Patients;’ Joins Mind-Eye Institute  

Behavioral and developmental optometrist Carla Adams, M.Ed., OD, FCOVD, left retail optometry to open her own practice and create an “alternative vision clinic.” Dr. Adams says she felt she could “do more to help patients” through neuro-visual rehabilitation and pediatric vision therapy rather than simply 20/20 eye testing.

“Eighty percent of patients coming through retail optometric outlets require only primary care optometry,” Dr. Adams says. “I wanted to help patients with special needs as well – people for whom primary care optometry is insufficient.”

But, after years in her own practice, Dr. Adams realized that, perhaps, therapy alone might not always be the most direct – and most rapid – approach to getting patients to their goals. “Therapy relies on compliance, and not all patients are diligent in adhering to prescribed therapy regimens,” she says.

Then she met Deborah Zelinsky, OD, FNORA, FCOVD, founder and executive research director of the Mind-Eye Institute, and discovered that Dr. Zelinsky is “doing more” for patients — successfully and often relatively quickly — through neuro-optometric rehabilitative science, including advanced testing and use of prescribed “brain” glasses that enhance a patient’s “retinal processing.”

In fact, Dr. Zelinsky is internationally known for her work involving the retina’s impact on brain function. For the past 30 years, she has been devoting her career to neuro-optometric rehabilitation and development of advanced methods for assessing brain function, with emphasis on the often-untested linkage between eye and ears. Her patented research in novel uses of retinal stimulation has been described in publications and courses worldwide.

Dr. Zelinsky is on the Board of Directors of the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics and a community leader for the Society for Neuroscience. She also is a member of the American Optometric Association and a fellow in both the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

It’s this kind of expertise that prompted Dr. Adams to join the Mind-Eye Institute, where she says, “I am learning something new every day.”

Dr. Adams is training in applying the advanced neuro-optometric rehabilitation techniques practiced by the Mind-Eye team and is seeing patients in both the Mind-Eye Institute’s central clinic in Northbrook, Ill. and in her own practice, which is undergoing a name change from Optique EyeCare to Mind-Eye Institute. The satellite office is located at 2435 Dean St., Suite C, in St. Charles, Ill.

“Retinal processing” refers to the brain’s ability (partially beneath a conscious level of awareness) to filter sensory signals, sending the filtered version for further brain processing. The brain processing combines the retinal signals with other sensory signals (from hearing, smell, taste and touch) and synthesizes the information, inducing reactions and responses depending on many internal sensory signals, Dr. Zelinsky says.

When intact, retinal processing enables people to have internal systems (such as balance and posture) running automatically. This “cruise control” allows a person to adapt appropriately to the external world around them. If brain circuitry is out of sync because it has been disrupted – or, in the case of younger children, perhaps under-developed — people can become confused about their surrounding environment and exhibit inappropriate reactions and responses, Dr. Zelinsky explains.

The Mind-Eye Institute uses therapeutic eyeglasses – called Brainwear™– to address symptoms of brain injuries and insult due to trauma and stroke, neurological disorders, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and learning issues. That’s because changing the way light passes through the retina can modify the dynamic relationship between the mind’s visual inputs and the body’s internal responses, Dr. Zelinsky says.

In her own practice, Dr. Adams has been providing functional and developmental testing for patients of all ages, including infants; identifying specific visual problems; and then determining the appropriate therapies to manage them. She has addressed issues that cause children to struggle in the classroom, such as attention deficit disorder and autism spectrum disorder, and visual dysfunctions due to brain injury, concussion and stroke in adults.

“Vision therapy is like physical therapy for the eyes, teaching you to coordinate your eyes with each other, as well as with your hands, body and brain,” says Dr. Adams, who is board-certified in vision therapy.

Dr. Adams’ expertise includes management of a variety of conditions, including strabismus (misaligned or “crossed” eyes), amblyopia (“lazy” eye), accommodative and convergence disorders and vision-related learning disorders. She also works closely with physical and occupational therapists, reading and education specialists, physicians and psychologists to ensure her patients receive an integrated approach to their health care.

“Vision is a dynamic process that is learned and directly affects how we think, how we solve problems and how we feel,” says Dr. Adams, who graduated from the Illinois College of Optometry and earned a master’s degree in education from the University of North Florida. “Emphasis is not just placed on getting a patient to see 20/20, but also on how patients perceive their environment and how efficiently they use their eyesight.”

Dr. Adams concurs with the long-stated mantra of Dr. Zelinsky and the Mind-Eye Institute that “20/20 testing should be left in the 20th Century.”

“Eye testing continues to be based on a 150-year-old system that only evaluates central eyesight. It does this by having a patient fix conscious attention on a non-moving target like an eye chart. But, general awareness in today’s fast-paced environment is highly dependent on peripheral eyesight,” Dr. Zelinsky says.

“We use peripheral and central eyesight in tandem to scan and shift our gaze from place to place, whether it be from a car dashboard to the road, from notes to a teacher or from a tennis ball to an opposing player. We typically use peripheral processing to guide where our attention is placed,” Dr. Zelinsky states. “Unfortunately, despite its critical role in our ability to perceive and function comfortably, some aspects of peripheral eyesight usage – and their impact on brain function – still remain largely untested under current standards.”

Dr. Adams is a fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and a member of the Optometric Extension Program, National Optometric Association and the Illinois Optometric Association (IOA). She also is the speaker liaison for the Fox Valley Chapter of the IOA and serves on the auxiliary board for the Tri City Health Partnership, a clinic providing health care to families in need.

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