It Began in a Doctor’s Home; Now Mind-Eye Has Gone Global
Patients with Visual Processing Disorders Traveling from all 50 states, Canada, Europe, Asia & Australia
A Chicago-area optometry practice started three decades ago in a doctor’s private residence has grown into a worldwide venture, drawing patients from all over North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, because of its founder’s innovative clinical work and research on retinal stimulation and its effects on deep brain circuitry.
The Mind-Eye Institute, in Northbrook, Ill., is attracting patients from as far away as Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand and many countries throughout Europe. They are traveling to the Institute’s simple, moderate-size clinic in the hope of finding relief from problems with learning, concentration and attention, as well as from the lingering effects of traumatic brain injuries and concussions, strokes, and post-traumatic stress disorders.
Many of the patients are desperate for assistance. They come to the Institute after struggling with symptoms for years, despite seeing literally dozens of health professionals. One patient from the Lansing, Michigan area estimates she saw more than 100 health practitioners for symptoms related to traumatic brain injury before learning of the work of the Mind-Eye Institute.
The Institute’s international flavor was particularly on display in October (2019) when two patients from Switzerland, one from the Netherlands, one from Pennsylvania, one from New York and a patient who drove three hours from another town in Illinois all arrived on the same day for scheduled clinic appointments. A month earlier, two residents of Sweden sat together in the patient waiting room after entering the Institute’s doors at approximately the same time in the morning to await evaluation by members of the Mind-Eye team.
On another occasion – during a single summer day, the Institute welcomed patients from Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan and Montana.
The Mind-Eye Institute is recognized worldwide for its work in assessing “visual processing.” The term refers to the brain’s ability (partially beneath a conscious level of awareness) to take in many external sensory signals – from eyesight, hearing, smell, taste and touch; synthesize the information; and then react and respond depending on internal sensory signals, explains Mind-Eye founder and executive research director Deborah Zelinsky, OD. Her studies of retinal stimulation have been described in publications and courses throughout the world.
“When intact, visual processing enables people to understand and respond appropriately to the 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 says. “Typical eye examinations use 20/20 as a goal; our team uses comfort, instead. People would rather see only the 20/25 line of print but have fewer symptoms.”
She works with the retina — an overlooked part of the central nervous system — and says, “modification of retinal inputs simultaneously affects body posture and biochemistry, as well as one’s spatial awareness, movement, perception of surrounding environment and selective attention to sound. Just because eyes and ears are each functioning does not mean we can assume that the link between those two sensory systems is solid. Eye-ear coordination is a learned skill, as is hand-eye coordination.”
At the Mind-Eye Institute, “we are enhancing brain function, using therapeutic eyeglasses – ‘brain’ glasses — as one of the vehicles that alter the environment,” she says. “Even people who do not need glasses to see clearly can often benefit, because our glasses are designed for bending light to the edges of the eye rather than simply the center.
“With the proper mix of filters, lenses and/or prisms, we can prescribe eyeglasses that modify a patient’s eye-ear integration. Changing luminance on the eye affects how the brain interprets and reacts to information about the environment and impacts a person’s overall sense of balance and comfort,” says Dr. Zelinsky, who has devoted 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.
Through careful modulation of retinal signaling using these specialized eyeglasses, the Mind-Eye Institute is helping patients who have learning challenges to develop new visual skills, and often helping those with damaged brain circuitry as the result of injury or disease to redevelop their lost skills.
Publication of the book The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back by Clark Elliott PhD in 2015 gave the Mind-Eye Institute’s expanding reputation an added boost. In the book, the author, a DePaul University Chicago academician and specialist in applied artificial intelligence, details his eight years of struggles following a mild traumatic brain injury and his search for practitioners who could help him return to his old self. The book describes what he calls the “magic” work of the Mind-Eye Institute
Many patients indicate that Elliott’s book was what initially gave them hope and prompted them to contact the Mind-Eye Institute.
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Mind-Eye Featured in the News Media
Newspapers and television stations throughout the country have been reporting on the work of the Mind-Eye Institute. Read the articles below to learn more about what the Mind-Eye Institute is doing to pioneer change in how optometric evaluations are performed in the 21st Century.