‘Brain’ Glasses Put Her Back on the Forest Hiking Trails
Wisconsin Resident Thanks Mind-Eye Team for Return to ‘My Sanctuary’
Her first pair of “brain” glasses put Ruth Christy back on the hiking trails of her Wisconsin woods. “I was no longer stumbling. I could walk up and down hills and avoid hitting my head on tree branches. The deep woods always have been my sanctuary, and they gave that back to me,” Ruth says.
The “they” are members of the team at the Northbrook, Ill.-based Mind-Eye Institute, which was able to do for Ruth what she had spent three years vainly seeking through the standard health care system – “getting my life back.”
The Mind-Eye Institute (www.mindeye.com) helps brain-injured patients, including those with concussions, redevelop their visual processing capabilities by using individualized, therapeutic eyeglasses and other optometric methods. “Brain” glasses are intended to bend light in different ways across the retina, which is made up of brain tissue and is part of the central nervous system, explains Ruth’s optometrist, Dan Myers OD.
“Light is converted into brain signals,” says Mind-Eye founder and executive research director Deborah Zelinsky, OD. “In fact, the eye plays a critical role in routing information through multiple pathways, many of which are not part of eyesight. Variance in light signals can create new neurological pathways that are uncorrupted by injury or disease. Light stimulation also can rebuild (or more often, circumvent) damaged or disrupted pathways, enhancing a patient’s spatial awareness and perception.”
Ruth recalls her immediate troubles – coordination and balance problems, severe vertigo, narrowed spatial awareness and light sensitivity – all developing soon after a car accident in which her stopped vehicle was struck from behind. But, on closer reflection, she thinks her symptoms may have had earlier genesis from incidents that occurred as long as 15 years ago.
“I was involved in a high-speed crash when I was in my 20s, being hit by a drunk driver,” Ruth says. She also had been an assault victim. Each time, she experienced vertigo, but the problem would eventually clear up.
Not so following the stop sign crash near her Kenosha, Wis. home, even though “there appeared to be no damage to my car. The other driver had simply been unable to stop on the ice.”
When Ruth awakened in the morning following the accident, she was scared. “I had the worst migraine headache ever and could barely see.” The emergency department of the local hospital diagnosed her as having whiplash and sent her home with pain pills. Little did she know then that her hospital visit would be only the start of a three-year odyssey for relief of her symptoms.
“I had this constant feeling of being on a rocking boat. I was always seasick – dizzy, nauseous — and had an intense sensitivity to bright light and loud noises,” Ruth says. The vertigo upset her balance and coordination. “I was not moving properly. I was experiencing neck and joint pain and muscle tension. My spatial world kept getting smaller and smaller; reading became difficult. I developed anxiety and depression. While driving, I would often suffer panic attacks and have to pull off the road.”
Ruth also suffered memory loss and extreme fatigue, but what proved most emotionally draining for her was the inability to walk the trails of her beloved deep woods. “My coordination and spatial awareness were so off, I was forced to stop hiking,” she says.
Meanwhile, “I kept getting passed from doctor to doctor. I saw an ear, nose, and throat specialist several times before being told he could not help me anymore and referred me to a neurologist for a possible brainstem problem. The neurologist tested me and found nothing wrong with my brain or brainstem. I saw three different eye doctors, was prescribed three different prescriptions, and could not adjust to any of them. I had good eyesight – 20/20. That was not the problem. I also was taking just about every medication imaginable. The drugs would make me feel better for a while, but eventually I would start feeling worse again,” Ruth remembers.
She calls her life at that time a “roller-coaster,” and “I wanted to get off.”
It was a November 2019 search for help on the Internet – “I popped in the words ‘neurology’ and ‘ophthalmology’ – that brought up the Mind-Eye web site. “I was blown away by the science. I read the information on post-concussion symptoms, I took the patient quiz and I saw the testimonials of other patients,” Ruth says.
But she still was a bit skeptical. “I talked to family members, friends, other professionals,” she says. Although their opinions varied, she eventually decided to take the plunge in early 2020 and made an appointment at the Mind-Eye Institute.
“I have had eye tests before, but nothing like what I went through at the Mind-Eye. The bell test was crazy,” Ruth says, referring to Dr. Zelinsky’s internationally recognized and patented Z-Bell Test™.
During the test, an optometrist rings a bell near the patient, and, with eyes closed, the patient is asked to reach out and touch it. If the patient keeps missing the bell, the optometrist puts different lenses and filters across the patient’s eyes, which remain closed, until the person can hit the bell dead-on.
“Retinal activation of parts of the brain not used for eyesight is common at the Mind-Eye Institute. With eyes closed, patients are still having to visualize surrounding space in order to locate the bell,” Dr. Myers explains. “By placing various types of lenses across a patient’s closed eyes, the person’s internal perception of space is shifted.”
Ruth says her comprehensive Mind-Eye evaluation showed “my eyes were not tracking properly – I seemed to be skipping every other word when reading – and my central and peripheral eyesight were out of balance. I was also strongly left-eye dominant, which affected my head posture.”
Since receiving her therapeutic eyeglasses, Ruth states, “I am no longer dizzy. I am not bothered by bright sunlight or indoor lights. I can actually go grocery shopping and walk down the aisles without feeling overstimulated. My reading is getting better. I can read for longer periods without burning out or getting overly fatigued. I realize now what an impact all these symptoms were having on the quality of my life.”
During her search for help within the standard health system, Ruth emphasizes that “no [doctor or health professional] ever asked me anything about hitting my head. No one put two and two together.”
As for her experience with the Mind-Eye Institute, “the glasses that Dr. Myers prescribed got me back on the [forest] trails. I literally cried when I discovered I could walk them again.”
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