Mind•Eye Blog:

Plenty ‘Fight’ Left in Me; Resiliency Gets Me ‘Back’ to Work

Plenty ‘Fight’ Left in Me; Resiliency Gets Me ‘Back’ to Work

I fell and injured my back a couple months ago, and, as part of my journey to recovery, had to learn how to manipulate a walker. Maneuvering a walker in an out of bathrooms or down stairs may seem like a whole lot of physical work, and it is, but I later realized that the acts of plotting and then carefully following walker-suitable routes to get where I need to go expended at least as much, if not more, mental energy.

Indeed, the walker drastically reduced my awareness of space. Although my eyes were capturing signals from all the surrounding space, my brain was ignoring everything around me and paying almost total attention to the ground and objects directly in front of me. There was a tunneling effect. Much of what I usually would do beneath the level of consciousness now had become calculated, weighed, fully considered because, physically, I was not normal. My mind was attempting to compensate by shifting a huge majority of attention to my pain and impaired movements – and that kind of mental work drained what Clark Elliott, PhD, author of Ghost in My Brain, referred to as a person’s energy batteries. 

Dr. Elliott discussed A, B and C batteries, with A being a person’s daily amount of energy, which replenishes during sleep; B, the reserve energy that requires a few days to recover; and C, the deep, “only to be used in a super emergency” reserves, which, if depleted long enough, can lead to disease. 

Of course, as is the case with many of my firsthand experiences, I compared my challenges to the struggles that many Mind-Eye patients face. I contemplated why some of those patients do so well in recovering from traumatic brain injuries, stroke, and other neurological disorders and why others do not. The word that came to mind was “resiliency,” a topic I recently explored for an issue of Brain Health Magazine.

The term resiliency encompasses “the range of personal protective factors, environmental supports, and resources, as well as self-regulatory processes, engaged in response to adversity,” according to investigators writing about recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI) for the publication Disability and Rehabilitation.

Resiliency occurs at two levels – physical and mental. One level involves a person’s drive and commitment to overcome physical disabilities and do whatever necessary to regain functions lost in an accident, sports activity, medically related event like a stroke – or a fall that injures the back and puts one in a walker. At a mental level, patients with a brain injury are often stuck in fight-or-flight mode. The fighters have much greater capacity than “flighters” to go beyond their comfort level and address and resolve problems. Other patients either “freeze “ – they cannot accept their new situation – or “flop” – they surrender to stressors and meekly submit to whatever happens. The Mind-Eye Institute team has found that patients with innate mental resiliency seem to do better at re-building their brain functions after an injury.

Fortunately, I am neither a “flighter” nor “flopper” when it comes to injuries. I can be a “flighter” and run the other way when faced with a stack of paperwork to be completed, but mental activity and physical activity are influenced by independent, yet interconnected, brain pathways. Back injury or not, I had to fight my way back to the Mind-Eye Institute to help address the backlog of patients and reduce the workload stress on my colleagues who had picked up the slack while I was recovering.

But life is not always black and white. Some scientists suggest resiliency may be as much a component of brain chemistry as it is a mix of personality traits, psychological characteristics, mental toughness – and, certainly, a backlog of patients. And, if that is so, cannot the ability to accept and successfully respond to challenges of a brain disorder or learning difficulties be restored or enhanced  through changes in brain function? 

Quite possibly! In fact, experts suggest neuromodulation – modifying brain chemistry and function – may be a treatment protocol for enhancing successful rehabilitation of brain-injured patients or patients with other neurological dysfunctions.

One important mechanism for neuromodulation is retinal stimulation. Following this logic, optometry is an underused method of altering brain activity. Since the retina is composed of brain tissue, how the retina processes environmental signals – through both image-forming (eyesight) and non-image-forming (non-eyesight) pathways — influences overall physical and mental health, including a patient’s power of resiliency. 

Retinal circuitry is composed of both image-forming cells – those allowing us to ‘see’ – and non-image-forming cells, which have nothing to do with eyesight but generate signals that communicate with critical brain structures below the level of consciousness. These structures govern a person’s basic physical, physiological, and psychological systems. I suspect, during my convalescence from back trauma, the signals from non-imaging-forming cells were at low levels because of my concentration on central eyesight and efforts to peer directly ahead of me with all due caution.

The Mind-Eye Institute uses therapeutic eyeglasses, filters, and other optometric interventions to stimulate retinal processing and influence brain pathways. The right mix of prescriptive optometric appliances can influence and change the spatial and temporal distribution of light on the retina in ways that modify the dynamic relationship between the mind’s visual inputs and the body’s internal responses. 

“Customized changes” to the brain are what oftentimes bring relief to patients experiencing the headaches, brain fog, concentration and attention problems, sleep disorders, and even learning difficulties due to brain injury or neurological abnormalities and disease.

Indeed, authors of a University of Iowa Health Care study appearing in a 2022 issue of the journal Brain contend that resilience against mood disorders like depression after a brain injury depends on which of two brain networks is affected. One network is associated with increased risk of developing depression and the other with decreased risk and greater resilience.

Meanwhile, investigators, writing in a 2022 issue of Molecular Psychiatry, contend a surge in stress hormones after a traumatic event can affect the brain in diverse ways and in different people. Some people are more resilient against post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression than others.

Bottom line: retinal processing is far-reaching, and its effects are not yet fully researched. The field of optometry holds so much future promise for being at the forefront of influencing brain activity. Until then, though, time for me to get off my back and start seeing patients.

Deborah Zelinsky, O.D.

Founder, Executive Director of Research

Mind-Eye Institute

Take The 60 Second Mind•Eye Symptoms Assessment

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 and its mission to “Leave 20/20 in the 20th Century.” To learn more about what the Mind-Eye Institute is doing to pioneer these changes in optometric evaluations , click here:

Latest Studies Underscore Role of Retina in Overall Health

Mind-Eye Research: Latest Studies Underscore Role of Retina in Overall Health Mind-Eye Founder Says Light Can Affect Brain, Body’s Internal SystemsA noted Chicago area optometrist’s longtime contention that the eye’s retina reflects a person’s overall health,...

Mind-Eye Has ‘Changed the World’ One Patient at a Time

Success Stories: Mind-Eye Has ‘Changed the World’ One Patient at a Time About Z-Bell Test℠, Denise Grim Says, ‘You Got to Be Kidding Me’Brain-injured patient Denise Grim of Oklahoma recalls her response to a casual remark by Mind-Eye Institute founder and optometrist...

Potential Impact of Electromagnetic Waves on the Human Body and the Role of Optometry

Mind-Eye Research: Potential Impact of Electromagnetic Waves on the Human Body and the Role of OptometryCan electromagnetic waves like those produced by common appliances and wireless devices, including cell phones and WiFi routers, change the way we perceive our...

Brain-Changing Lenses Help Unlock Patient’s Artistic Talent

Success Stories: Brain-Changing Lenses Help Unlock Patient’s Artistic Talent Mind-Eye Founder Not Surprised; Says Light Stimulates New Brain Pathways“Who would have ever imagined that eyeglasses could begin to heal what felt like a million broken pieces, but indeed...

Retina Opens Whole New ‘Window’ to Brain Evaluation

Retina Opens Whole New ‘Window’ to Brain Evaluation Mind-Eye Founder Tells International Group How Light Can Affect BrainBecause the retina of the eye is composed of brain tissue, it offers a “window” to the brain and can serve as basis for future evaluation of...

Changes in Retina Can Indicate Alzheimer’s Disease

Mind-Eye Research: Changes in Retina Can Indicate Alzheimer’s Disease Study Supports Mind-Eye Contention That Retina Mirrors Brain HealthCould the eye’s retina play a significant role in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease? A recently published article suggests...

‘Seeing the Brain Through the Eye’ More Than Just a Title

Mind-Eye Blog: ‘Seeing the Brain Through the Eye’ More Than Just a Title  Seeing the Brain Through the Eye is the title of a project underway in the laboratory of Delia Cabrera DeBuc PhD. at the prestigious Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami....

Her Vertigo Eases; Mind-Eye Lenses Helping Peripheral Sight

Success Stories: Her Vertigo Eases; Mind-Eye Lenses Helping Peripheral Sight Simone Off Cane; Back to Cutting Hair, Conversing with FriendsFor Simone Wilks of Houston, Texas, the Mind-Eye Institute has truly proved what she calls a “life-changer.” Within just a few...

Retina Proving to Be More Than Meets the Eye

Mind-Eye Blog: Retina Proving to Be More Than Meets the Eye Mind-Eye Founder Presents to Global Scientists at World Pharma 2023Calling the retina an “overlooked part of the central nervous system,” noted optometrist Deborah Zelinsky OD told global participants in the...

First Optometrist Elected President of Brain Mapping Society

Mind-Eye Institute Founder Inducted During International World Congress

Clinic Business Hours:

Monday - Saturday

8:00 AM - 6:45 PM


Sunday - Closed

Contact Us:


During Business Hours:




Northbrook Clinic Address

1414 Techny Rd,
Northbrook, IL 60062, USA