Select Dynamic field

Success Stories, Traumatic Brain Injury

Patient Says ‘I Have Not Felt This Good Since 7th Grade’

Visit to Mind-Eye Changes Her Perception, Opens Her World

A simple pair of silicone implants – tiny pieces of silicone, called punctal plugs, that are placed in the eyelids — changed Marie’s world

“Dr. Myers told me the [punctal] plugs would allow light back into my brain and make my parasympathetic nervous system work more to calm me.  And, when he inserted them [into the tear ducts] in my eyes, I experienced a sudden release in my head and body.  Everything seemed perfect.  Frankly, I have not felt this good since 7th grade,” says Marie Williams of Freeport, Illinois. 

Now in her 50s, Marie has suffered the debilitating symptoms caused by four diagnosed concussions – the last occurring in October 2019 when some boards fell on her head. She also suffered a stroke about 20 years earlier when she was in her 30s; the stroke caused her to experience several thousand seizures.

“I had been looking at things as if through a cone, but the plugs suddenly opened my entire field of vision.  My perception changed dramatically.  I felt present.  I walked out of Dr. Myers’ office and I could see the entire receptionists’ counter, the file cabinets and the staff sitting there.  While my husband was driving the car after we left, I kept looking around, seeing the houses that we were passing and the sky. It was like a brand-new world. And, I could not only take it all in but articulate it,” Marie recalls.

The “Dr. Myers” to whom Marie refers is Daniel Myers, OD, an optometrist at the Mind-Eye Institute, which has gained international attention for its work in stimulating, modifying, and regulating patients’ visual processing.  Through careful modulation of retinal signaling using customized, therapeutic “brain” glasses – Brainwear™ — and other optometric appliances and techniques, the Mind-Eye Institute is helping those patients who have learning challenges to develop new visual skills, as well as patients — like Marie — who have damaged brain circuitry caused by injury or disease to redevelop and rebuild lost skills.

In addition to the plugs, Dr. Myers prescribed Marie a highly individualized pair of Brainwear™ to enhance her comfort and further lessen symptoms of her brain trauma.

“Even though the retina is composed of brain tissue, it remains an overlooked part of the central nervous system,” Dr. Myers says. “By changing how light enters the retina, we can simultaneously affect body posture and biochemistry, as well as a person’s spatial awareness, movement, perception of surrounding environment and selective attention to sound.”

He says turning Marie’s parasympathetic system (the “rest and digest” division of the autonomic nervous system) up a notch would trigger positive changes. 

“When people are stressed, their eyes are drier; when they are relaxed, their eyes become moister,” Dr. Myers says. “The part of the brain that regulates this feedback loop is the hypothalamus, and the retina directly sends signals there.  The hypothalamus regulates other body functions also, including feeling hungry when the stomach is empty and full after eating.”

Indeed, Marie remembers how hungry she was following her appointment.

“I had not had an appetite for the past 24 years [due to my injuries].  I considered eating just a necessary function,” Marie says.  “And, I am a certified nutritionist; never eat deep-fried foods.  But after getting these plugs in my eyes, I insisted my husband stop at a restaurant on the way home.  I ended up ordering a basket of Southern-fried chicken, a burger, Cajun fries and a chocolate shake – and I ate more quickly than my husband.”

She also rediscovered her energy.  “I was ready to practically do anything.  When I arrived home from Mind-Eye, I immediately called five people about my experience – my sisters, my son, my nephew.”

Up until her July 2020 visit to Mind-Eye, Marie’s life had been on a downward spiral.  After her stroke and all her concussions – the first occurring before 5th grade when she was accidentally struck in the forehead with a baseball bat and knocked unconscious – the head injury she incurred in the fall of 2019 proved the proverbial “straw.”

“I struggled every day.  I lost basic math skills and that affected my ability to conduct my skin care business.  I was overwhelmed, unfocused, listless.  If I moved anything, I could not remember where I put it.  I was only sleeping three or four hours a night.  Depression set in – not a situational depression, but an internal, debilitating one.  I could not engage in good conversation and was afraid to get behind the wheel of a car,” Marie says.  She also suffered digestive problems.

Her own health challenges, coupled with some serious, complex health issues affecting other members of her immediate family, brought Marie to the end of her rope.  “I was not only affected physically, but spiritually.  I was despondent and in despair. I started praying that the Lord might take me home,” she says.

Enter the Mind-Eye Institute.

“In December of last year, I made an appointment for my daughter at a local optometrist’s office.  The optometrist looked at the glasses she was wearing and said, ‘These are different. They look like they were prescribed by Mind-Eye.’ Indeed, they had been.  I had taken my daughter to Mind-Eye many years earlier, and the optometrist’s comment made me think to call Mind-Eye again – this time for both my daughter and me.”

During her first appointment, Marie remembers being “blown away” by the Mind-Eye team’s techniques, testing, and science. “The bell test is absolutely amazing,” says Marie, referring to the Z-Bell Test℠ developed by Mind-Eye founder and executive research director Deborah Zelinsky, OD.

During a typical Z-Bell evaluation, a patient, with eyes closed, tries to reach out and touch high- and low-note bells that a Mind-Eye optometrist is ringing.  If the patient cannot do so, the optometrist then places different lenses, prisms, and filters across the patient’s closed eyelids until an optimal combination allows the patient to find the bells immediately.  These optical appliances bend the ways in which light disperses across the retina, thereby impacting brain function.

“Even when eyes are closed, a low level of light still passes through the eyelids and stimulates the retina,” Dr. Zelinsky says. “Retinal stimulation also activates parts of the brain not used for eyesight. With eyes closed, patients are still having to visualize surrounding space in order to locate the bell. That is one of many internal visual skills not necessarily triggered by external eyesight.

“By placing various types of lenses across a patient’s closed eyes, we can change the way light spreads over the retina, thus modifying the dynamic relationship between the mind’s visual inputs and the body’s internal reactions and responses,” Dr. Zelinsky explains.

“When Dr. Myers talked to me about the parasympathetic nervous system, I knew I was in the right place,” says Marie, who learned all she could about the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic nervous systems after suffering the stroke.

“Thanks to the Mind-Eye Institute and Dr. Myers, I am thinking and functioning better,” says Marie.  “I have been in pain for the past 20 years, but no longer.  I cannot understand what has happened, but I do know that God has decided to smile on me.”