Mind-Eye Research:

Scientists Shed More Light on Retina as ‘Window to Brain’

Studies Support Mind-Eye’s Use of Brain Glasses to Bring Patients Relief

Let there be light?

For years, the Northbrook, Illinois-based Mind-Eye Institute has been altering the way light is dispersed on the retina in order to create changes in the brains of patients suffering from symptoms due to traumatic head injury, concussion, stroke, and neurological disorders. Now, recent research on the relationships between light, the retina, and the brain is underscoring clinical efforts of the Institute and its founder Deborah Zelinsky, OD.

Among the latest studies is one featured in a January 2022 issue of the Journal of Clinical Medicine (https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/11/2/448/htm10.3390/jcm11020448). There, investigators report on “retina-brain pathways of light” that can regulate a person’s mood. “Unveiling the structure and function of neural circuits related to the retina and response to light [is] crucial to better understanding how light exerts its influence on mood,” they write.

“Their findings are not at all surprising,” says Dr. Zelinsky, an optometrist world-renowned for her work in retinal processing. “The retina is composed of brain tissue and plays a crucial role as part of the central nervous system. The retina acts as a primary portal for information to the brain.” In fact, much of the focus of Dr. Zelinsky’s invited presentations at the March 2022 Congress of the Society for Brain Mapping & Therapeutics was on how assessment – mapping — of a patient’s retina can provide much needed clues to the presence of a variety of disorders. 

Science supports her comments.  For example, authors of an article published in 2020 in Biomedical Optics Express (https://opg.optica.org/boe/fulltext.cfm?uri=boe-11-11-6249&id=440954) report “optical spectroscopy can be used to explore the eye as the window to the brain” and say such assessment of the retina may help determine the severity of a traumatic brain injury. The findings “lay the groundwork for further [exploration] of…[retinal] spectroscopy for indirect non-invasive assessment of brain chemistry.”

In a 2019 issue of Somnologie (Berl) (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x), scientists contend that bright light therapy has become a useful tool in slowing progressive cognitive decline, reducing listlessness, managing sleep-wake disturbances, and addressing a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as anorexia and bulimia, personality disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Meanwhile, a recent study – in the March 2022 edition of Science Advances (https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abn2070) – indicates how mitochondria – energy-producing organelles in all cells — have a special “micro-lens” feature in the retina’s photoreceptors, particularly in the cones, and this feature affects the passage of light in these cells. The scientists suggest increased understanding of the “optical role of cone mitochondria…[has] imperative clinical implications. Noninvasive retinal imaging modalities such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) and adaptive optics…may be poised to identify mitochondria-specific deficits.” 

Indeed, Dr. Zelinsky says the retina might be considered a “poor man’s MRI.”

“We are hopeful that, in the not-too-far-distant future, the modulation of optic nerve and brain activity through non-invasive retinal stimulation — alone or in combination with other therapies — will prove clinically effective in addressing a host of neurogenerative diseases, mental illnesses, autism, metabolic disorders, as well as dysfunctions in circadian rhythm, limbic, and endocrine systems,” says Dr. Zelinsky. 

Using therapeutic eyeglasses, filters, and other optometric interventions can stimulate retinal processing by varying the amount, intensity, and angle of light dispersed on the retina. Electrical signals, which propagate through neurons and interact with critical brain structures, affect not just the visual cortex but other, significant regions of the brain as well, like the limbic system, the cerebellum, mid-brain, thalamus, hypothalamus, and brainstem. 

“The right mix of prescriptive lenses, filters and prisms remodels the spatial and temporal distribution of light on the retina, thereby modifying the dynamic relationship between the mind’s visual inputs and the body’s internal responses. The implication is that this retinal stimulation can intentionally promote customized changes in basic physical, physiological, and even psychological systems involved in motor control, posture, emotion, and decision-making abilities,” Dr Zelinsky indicates. 

Yes, the “retina is a window to the brain,” says Dr. Zelinsky, citing the headline of an article in a 2021 edition of the journal Cell. “The retina tells us a lot about a person’s overall health.  That is why optometrists may eventually become the professionals patients initially visit to determine if they have early onset Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, or other disorders.”  

In fact, a study involving 47,000 participants and published in a 2022 edition of the British Journal of Ophthalmology (dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjophthalmol-2021-319807) even correlates retinal health with a prediction of mortality, Dr. Zelinsky points out.

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:

Local Optometrist Participates in Pentagon Award Ceremony

  Local Optometrist Participates in Pentagon Award Ceremony Mind-Eye Present to Recognize US Military for Lifesaving Pandemic EffortsAn internationally renowned optometrist from Northbrook, Illinois was among neuroscientists and brain experts invited to Washington, DC...

Patients Remember Most How You Made Them Feel

Mind-Eye Blog: Patients Remember Most How You Made Them Feel  At Mind-Eye, Patient Service ‘About Empathy,’ Compassion, and Concern As we head toward the holidays and the close of 2022, keep this thought in mind: Customerservice is about empathy. That statement –...

Latest Glaucoma Study Highlights Work of Mind-Eye Team

Mind-Eye Research: Latest Glaucoma Study Highlights Work of Mind-Eye TeamLink Between Blindness Disorder and Sleep Underscores Role of Retina   Newly published research associating poor quality sleep with a greater risk of glaucoma offersfurther evidence that eye...

‘Brain’ Glasses Improve Her Walking; Help Her Smile Again

Success Stories: ‘Brain’ Glasses Improve Her Walking; Help Her Smile Again Patient Says Mind-Eye and Donalee Markus Put Her on Path to RecoveryAfter six years of struggling with concussion symptoms, Sue Hebeisen of Minneapolis says shecan smile again, determine left...

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...

Retina’s Reaction to Light Could Play Major Role In Diagnosing Presence of Early Development Challenges

Mind-Eye Research: Retina’s Reaction to Light Could Play Major Role In Diagnosing Presence of Early Development ChallengesCan a simple test of the eye’s retina be enough to diagnose the presence of neurodevelopmental conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or...

‘Brain’ Glasses Enable Her to Make Sense of the World Again

Success Stories: ‘Brain’ Glasses Enable Her to Make Sense of the World Again  Mind-Eye Institute is Helping Patient Get Back to Skiing and Playing Tennis“I am excited about life again. Dr. [Carla] Adams is giving me back the part of my life I had lost. I struggled for...

The Digital Age Requires Making Time for the Development of New Skills

Mind-Eye Blog: MessagEase™? Why Not? Time to Learn New Ways of Doing   Taking the opportunity to learn something new can prove quite rewarding. That’s why I decided to spend time recently becoming acquainted with MessagEase™, an innovative, touch-screen keyboard...

Retinal Imaging Can Predict Changes in Blood Flow

Mind-Eye Research: Retinal Imaging Can Predict Changes in Blood Flow Mind-Eye Optometrist Says Changes in Retina Mirror Changes in BrainRecent study results suggest depression can cause imbalances in a person’s processing of the “internal mental world and external...

COVID Proving More Than a ‘Sight for Sore Eyes’

Mind-Eye Research:COVID Proving More Than a ‘Sight for Sore Eyes’Mind-Eye Institute Warns Virus Targets Retina, Which Is Portal to the Brain When it comes to ocular health, the COVID pandemic may be more than simply a “sight for sore eyes.” In fact, the latest...

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