‘Brain’ Glasses Help Her Recover – Twice
Reducing Symptoms of Brain Injury Also Relieves Her Brain Disorder
Buffy’s therapeutic eyeglasses from the Mind-Eye Institute have not only helped her recover from a significant brain injury, which occurred in June 2016, they apparently have had a second, unplanned result as well – one that has left her psychiatrist wondering “How?”
“I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2004 and on medications for more than 15 years, but I have been completely off meds for a year-and-a-half now. The eyeglasses prescribed by the Mind-Eye Institute for my post-concussive symptoms seem to have also altered my brain chemistry, changing the doctors’ previous diagnosis of ‘bipolar disorder,’ says Buffy Brasile, who manages her own beauty salon from her home in Woodstock, Ill.
The Mind-Eye Institute, based in Northbrook, Ill., has had significant success in using prescriptive eyeglasses, lenses or other optometric interventions to help patients redevelop visual skills during recovery from debilitating symptoms of brain injuries and other neurological disorders, as well as develop new skills in patients who have been labeled with “learning problems.”
“By changing the way light disperses across the retina, we can affect how the brain reacts to information about the environment and normalize a person’s spatial awareness, body posture and selective attention to sound,” says Mind-Eye founder and executive research director Deborah Zelinsky, OD.
The Mind-Eye Institute is recognized worldwide for its work in assessing “retinal processing.” The retina is made of brain tissue and sends signals to more than simply an eyesight center. Retinal signals combine (partially beneath a conscious level of awareness) with other sensory signals – from hearing, smell, taste and touch. Further brain processing synthesizes the information and reacts and responds depending on internal sensory signals, explains Dr. Zelinsky. Her studies of retinal stimulation have been described in publications and courses throughout the world.
“When intact, retinal processing enables people to understand and interact appropriately with the world around them. If brain circuitry is out of sync because it has been disrupted – as in Buffy’s case – or under-developed, people can become confused about their surrounding environment and exhibit inappropriate reactions and responses. If eyes and ears are not in sync, people have to continuously monitor their shifting attention, and that effort becomes exhausting,” Dr. Zelinsky says.
Buffy’s fourth – and most devastating – concussion happened when she was struck in the forehead by a kicked soccer ball traveling from eight yards away at a high speed. “The impact sent my head backwards, causing whiplash. I also felt my brain hit the back of my head,” says Buffy, who was serving as volunteer coach for a high school boys and girls soccer camp at the time.
Her immediate neurological symptoms, such as light and sound sensitivity, were similar to those resulting from her earlier concussions, all of which she sustained while playing as a soccer goalkeeper in school and later recreationally. “What was different this fourth time, though, was that the symptoms lasted much longer and were more intense,” Buffy relates.
“When the initial symptoms subsided, I was left with all these other issues,” she recounts. “I could not easily tell left from right. I lost my sense of direction. I could not do simple math. I was even unable to read. I could see letters on a page but could not make sense of what they meant as words.”
At the time, she was working on her own as a small-business consultant, but the brain injury hampered her ability to perform high executive functions, such as organizing lists and doing calculations. She had to stop consulting and rely strictly on her salon work for income.
Buffy likens her injured brain to a television set that had been working normally until someone pulled out the input wires for audio, picture and Internet, scrambled them and plugged them back in. “It was just difficult making sense of anything,” she says.
By November 2016, the effects of her traumatic head injury had even forced Buffy to stop driving. “That was the breaking point,” she says. She saw a neurologist, but he simply referred her to a psychiatrist after she passed all the standard testing.
“All I could tell him [neurologist] was ‘I just don’t feeI right’ and then remember thinking he believes I’m crazy. I thought I had reached a dead end,” she says. But she contacted a psychiatrist anyway, and it was there she learned about the work of the Mind-Eye Institute. “He happened to have in his office a specialist in cognition testing, and she suggested I call Dr. Zelinsky,” Buffy says.
She did, and her first Institute appointment was in February 2017.
“Dr. Zelinsky’s team ran me through a whole series of tests. Everything they checked addressed something I was having difficulty with,” Buffy says. “I kept thinking, ‘Thank goodness, someone is finally able to help me.’”
She especially recalls undergoing Dr. Zelinsky’s patented Z-Bell Test℠. a simple, but revolutionary method of checking a patient’s overall integration of retinal processing with awareness of auditory space — basically, how stable the eye-ear connection is.
During the Z-Bell Test℠, a patient reaches out, with eyes closed, and tries touching a ringing bell. If the patient cannot do so, a Mind-Eye optometrist places different lenses, prisms and filters across the patient’s closed eyelids until an optimal combination allows the patient to find the bell immediately without conscious effort. Light still passes through the eyelids and 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.
“I had my eyes closed, and Dr. Zelinsky is ringing this bell. I have no idea where it is. I am all over the place trying to reach out and touch it. And, then she puts the right type of lenses on my eyes, and – boom! – I know exactly where the bell is. I could feel my alignment returning,” Buffy recalls.
Ten days after the Mind-Eye assessment, Buffy received her first pair of Brainwear™ prescribed glasses and she says the effects were immediate. “I remember putting on the glasses, looking up at the television and suddenly being able to read again what was on the screen.
“Before my Mind-Eye glasses, all my awareness seemed to be off to the left somewhere,” she continues. “As soon as I put the glasses on, snap! Everything returned to center; I felt like I was back physically in my body. In fact, one of the most important things I got back is body demarcation. I can perceive where my physical body ends and where the surrounding environment begins.”
At the Mind-Eye Institute, “we are enhancing brain function, using Brainwear™ as one way to alter the environment,” Dr. Zelinsky explains. “Even people who do not need glasses to see clearly can benefit, because our glasses are designed for stimulating the edges of the eye in addition to the center.”
Buffy agrees. “I have always had 20/20 eyesight and never needed glasses before. But the 20/20 was only measuring my ability to see a non-moving target while I was seated. My Mind-Eye glasses are now worn 100 percent of the time when I am awake.”
Meanwhile, Buffy continues her road to recovery, which, at this point, is about 85 percent complete, according to Dr. Zelinsky.
“Dr. Zelinsky tells me when I first came to the Institute I was only functioning at about 20 percent,” Buffy says.
“The eyes take in information, and we rely on our brains to process that information and create an accurate picture of reality so that we can appropriately interact with our world. When brain injury occurs, everything is affected; our perception and visual circuitry are disrupted,” Buffy says in describing her experience.
“I am so very, very thankful to the Mind-Eye Institute for everything they have done for me.”
As for soccer coaching, “I am still doing some one-on-one work, but I am thinking it’s time to give it up. Based on my history, it’s a bit too risky being around flying balls,” Buffy laughs.
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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.