Eye-Opener: Prescription Glasses Can Affect Brain Function
Mind-Eye Institute Optometrist Presents Her Work at Global Congress
Two “eye-opening” facts.
First, the gold-standard 20/20 eye-testing system used throughout the 20th century is out-of-date and inadequate for today’s fast-paced environment. It is based on identifying non-moving letters; yet, the 21st century abounds in moving targets – from television and computers to billboards and traffic. Secondly, therapeutic eyeglasses can – and do — effectively alter a person’s posture and gait, brain chemistry, central and peripheral eyesight and other sensory systems.
Those are the key messages delivered by Stanley Tien, OD, representing the Mind-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Ill. He taught scientific leaders attending the presentation at the Global Congress on Neurology and Neuroscience, held in mid-July in Kuala, Lumpur, Malaysia. He and Deborah Zelinsky, OD, founder and research director of the Mind-Eye Institute, collaborated to expand “mind-eye” awareness. Scientists are not realizing that stimulating the eye with eyeglasses affects neurological (and biochemical) functions.
“The system of 20/20 measurements was established more than 150 years ago in the United States when much of the nation remained unsettled, overland travel was by horseback or horse-drawn wagons, and only prairies, forests and mountains dominated individuals’ peripheral sight,” says Dr. Zelinsky, who is internationally recognized for her novel studies of auditory changes via retinal stimulation..
“In today’s world, it is an insufficient eye-evaluation process,” she says.
Dr. Zelinsky’s ideas were accepted for presentation at the global conference because of her ground-breaking clinical successes and research in neuro-optometric rehabilitation. Her work has revolutionized scientific thinking about how the retina serves as a two-way portal to the brain, “transferring environmental signals from outside to inside and vice versa, while the mind and body continually adapt to sensory changes.”
“Evaluation of 20/20 clarity addresses only central eyesight. Standardized testing simply requires the patient to look quietly and consciously at non-moving targets on a high-contrast eyechart across a darkened room,” Dr. Zelinsky explained as part of her discussion. “But modern society is awash in moving, often stressful, targets – from signs, lights and other vehicles whizzing past us in traffic to ever-changing GPS car navigation screens and words rolling in and out of sight on scrolling web pages.
“Our ability to locate moving objects quickly and aim at them accurately requires peripheral retinal processing, which remains under-evaluated within current 20/20 testing guidelines,” she says.
“Most peripheral eyesight is designed to warn and protect us,” Dr. Zelinsky adds. As an example, when crossing a street and paying attention to something else, such as other people or a mobile phone, a person with normal, in-balance sensory systems can readily avoid a pothole or puddle or step up onto a high curb without either thinking about it or directly, consciously looking at it.
“But if peripheral eyesight is not efficiently functioning, discomfort occurs, even though central eyesight may still remain clear – at 20/20,” she states. Current eye care testing addresses peripheral eyesight, but typically not how it is used subconsciously nor how it affects other sensory systems or posture. Optometrists working with neuro-optometric rehabilitation know otherwise!
In the Malaysian presentation, Drs. Tien and Zelinsky reported that “using the proper mix of filters, lenses and/or prisms can lead to eyeglass prescriptions capable of readjusting a patient’s visual processing and eye-ear integration. Changes in luminance on the eye affect 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.”
Standard eyeglasses are intended to create optimal clarity, but therapeutic eyeglasses – what the Mind-Eye Institute calls ”Brainwear™” – balance external eyesight clarity with internal comfort.
Researchers, practitioners and academicians attending the lecture learned that “the retina is an overlooked part of the central nervous system. Modification of retinal inputs simultaneously affects body posture and biochemistry, as well as one’s spatial awareness and perception of environment.”
Patients differ in ranges of comfort, tolerance and protective mode, Dr. Zelinsky says. “That’s why eye professionals must consider each patient’s sensory inputs (filtering system), mental processing (adaptability) and motor outputs (differentiation).”
The discussion in Malaysia concluded with these takeaways:
- Today’s eye testing must include determination of how a patient’s use of peripheral eyesight is altered by environmental stimuli.
- Peripheral retinal processing is linked to other sensory inputs to create a spatial representation of the world.
- With advanced tools, optometrists can affect brain function by modifying sensory inputs through retinal stimulation. For that reason, optometry can play a crucial role in neurological research.
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