Her World Goes Black, But Mind-Eye Turns Lights Back On
Wisconsin Teen and Her Family Call Institute’s Work a ‘Miracle’
At first, she couldn’t breathe during a workout with her high school track team; then her world suddenly went black.
Bergen Brown struggled to regain her eyesight. Her peripheral visual field remained dark, and her central eyesight blurred and was narrowing by the day – as if peering through a donut hole. Neither hospital emergency doctors nor physician specialists in and around her hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin, could find anything wrong with her. A computed tomography (CT) scan suggested everything was normal.
The teenager feared she might be going permanently blind. But, a phone call from Bergen’s grandma, who resides in a suburb north of Chicago, changed that fear to hope. Through a friend, Grandma had heard about the work of the Mind-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Illinois and told Bergen’s mother, Kristen, “You have to take Bergen there; they can help.”
As Bergen later recalls, results of comprehensive testing at the Mind-Eye Institute indicated that the physical stress she had been under in and outside of school had likely prompted parts of her brain to “turn off.” Neurons in the brain are responsible for processing sensory information, including eyesight.
“My brain was apparently stuck in ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, so, when under stress, parts of it took a break, and I lost my peripheral eyesight as a result,” says Bergen, adding that the Mind-Eye team’s diagnosis “shocked me. I had no idea something like this could happen.”
But, “happen” it did, and Bergen blames much of her causative stress on school track-team workouts and races, the regular allergy shots that she was undergoing and a broken nose, which occurred during a track pushup-and-clap exercise. “I didn’t catch myself after the clap. My face hit the ground, breaking my nose,” Bergen says.
Not helping the stress issue are the almost daily, unexplained headaches Bergen has been experiencing – for about three years now.
Formerly a clinical center called the Mind-Eye Connection, the Mind-Eye Institute was formally established in 2018. Its goals are to expand scientific knowledge and increase public awareness of the pivotal role visual processing plays in other sensory and motor systems. The Institute also plans to develop an international network of optometrists trained in the advance diagnosis and treatment techniques of neuro-optometric rehabilitation.
Much of the Institute’s emphasis is on assisting patients in recovery from traumatic brain injury, stroke or symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. A percentage of Institute patients have learning problems and require a more solid connection between their eyes and ears to develop needed visual skills. Others are simply hoping to enhance their visual efficiency so that they can fully use their peripheral and central eyesight in concert with other sensory systems.
Blacking out of her peripheral eyesight was not a totally new experience for Bergen. She had one blackout episode before – during a competitive track event. “My vision went black for about 10 minutes, but then came back and seemed normal,” Bergen says. “I thought the issue at the time may be something related to my blood sugar level, since I had not eaten soon enough before the race.”
But, when her sight went black again – this time for about 30 minutes after a recent workout sprint, she suspected the issue might be more than blood sugar levels. “I was wheezing after the sprint as if I have asthma, but I don’t,” Bergen says, “and then I suddenly lost my sight.”
Her sight returned after a half-hour, “but this time it was not normal. Everything was extremely blurry,” relates Bergen.
Two days later, she awoke in the morning with her peripheral eyesight gone again. “I could not see anything at all on the sides, and what I could see [with central eyesight] was blurry.”
Trips to an ophthalmologist, neurologist, even a cardiologist did not prove helpful. “The ophthalmologist told me nothing seemed wrong; my sight would eventually come back, but it didn’t,” Bergen continues. Meanwhile, during the next four or five days, “my field of vision was becoming smaller and smaller.”
That’s when Grandma called, and the Brown family opted to drive the four-hour distance from their Wisconsin home to the Mind-Eye Institute, where Bergen underwent a battery of tests and evaluations, including the Institute’s patented Z-Bell Test℠.
The Z-Bell Test℠ is a simple, but revolutionary, method of checking a patient’s overall integration of visual processing with listening.
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. 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.
Initially, “I was able to find the bell on my right side, but missing it completely on my left,” Bergen remembers.
Bergen was later prescribed some tinted therapeutic glasses to be worn for only 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening and also an all-day-wear set of Brainwear™.
“The way light disperses across the retina can impact brain function,” says Deborah Zelinsky, OD, an optometrist noted worldwide for her work in neuro-optometric rehabilitation. “Using the proper mix of filters, lenses and/or prisms, we can prescribe eyeglasses – ‘brain’ glasses — that readjust a patient’s visual processing and eye-ear integration.”
“We use eyeglasses as a vehicle for enhancing brain function,” adds Mind-Eye optometrist, Daniel Myers OD.
Improvement in symptoms was not dramatic – at first – once Bergen began wearing her “brain” glasses. Her eyesight started returning gradually during a several-day period. “I began noticing I could see more and more.
“But, then, suddenly, it all came back – super-fast,” she says.
Today, Bergen’s eyesight is “almost completely normal,” but the Mind-Eye team is not stopping there. The Institute is adjusting her eyeglass prescription to address her recurrent headaches.
Bergen says she and her family already believe the Mind-Eye Institute “has worked a miracle.” And, if a new set of eyeglasses can help eliminate the headaches, well, simply call it “miracle number 2.”
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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.