Thanks to ‘Brain’ Glasses, Charlie Now Helping Save Lives
He Credits Mind-Eye Institute for His Success as Paramedic
Charlie Bertrand of Glen Ellyn, Ill. is in the business of saving lives, and he credits it all to his “brain” eyeglasses.
In fact, Charlie contends that he never would have graduated Loyola University Chicago with honors and become a paramedic had it not been for what he calls some “unconventional testing” at the Mind-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Ill. when he was in high school and an optometrist’s diagnosis pinpointing his problem – a visual processing disorder.
“As a paramedic, you have to be fast with simple medication math. You have to quickly convert a patient’s weight from pounds to kilograms, draw the appropriate dose of medication from a vial and safely deliver it,” Charlie says. “Without my glasses, my ability to process this kind of information would be significantly delayed, and the delay could have a serious impact on the patient.”
The eyeglasses also have facilitated his oral communication – Charlie no longer stutters when he wears them. “In their time of need, patients do not want someone who stutters through sentences. They want someone who communicates well and emanates confidence,” he says.
Of course, these are not ordinary eyeglasses. They are what Mind-Eye professionals refer to as Brainwear™, therapeutic lenses with a mix of prisms and filters designed to readjust a patient’s visual processing and eye-ear integration, says Deborah Zelinsky O.D., founder and research director of the Mind-Eye Institute and the doctor who performed Charlie’s initial evaluation.
“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 movement and selective attention to sound,” says Dr. Zelinsky, who is internationally noted for her studies and clinical work on how alterations in light on the retina impacts brain function.
Visual processing goes far beyond the standard central-eyesight system of seeing with 20/20 clarity. The term refers to the ability of the brain (beneath a conscious level of awareness) to:
- Process and interpret various sensory signals from the environment,
- Link the incoming information with previous knowledge,
- Add an emotion, and
- Decide on a response.
This visual processing enables people to understand and respond appropriately to the world around them.
“His eyes always have tested as 20/20,” Darci Bertrand says of her son. “Clarity of sight was not the issue.”
Symptoms of visual processing disorders are wide-ranging — from learning and attention problems, including an inability to read and concentrate, to problems with spatial awareness, social communication and interaction, constant stress, anxiousness, apathy, mood swings, even physical issues like headaches, dizziness, imbalance and nausea.
Charlie’s problems began in high school. “I started falling back [in my studies]. My friends were getting their homework done more quickly; they had more free time. I would have to read a sentence five times to understand it. Some of the words seemed to float around the page,” he says. “I had difficulty completing tests in school. I thought at first I was just a weak reader, because I did not do it enough.”
Meanwhile, his classroom struggles increased his anxiety level, and he developed a stuttering problem. “I would take a long time just to get out a single sentence,” he says.
Darci attributes Charlie’s anxiousness to hypersensitive peripheral vision. “For example, he did not want to drive with anyone else in the front seat because a passenger’s movements would startle him,” she says.
Charlie was initially diagnosed as having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD} and placed on medication, “but the drugs were of no help. They only increased my anxiety,” Charlie recalls.
An independent professional who places children in settings that might be more conducive to learning suggested to the Bertrand family that Charlie make an appointment with neuroscientist, Donalee Markus PhD, of Designs for Strong Minds™ in Highland Park, Ill. Following her evaluation of Charlie, Dr. Markus referred him to Dr. Zelinsky and the Mind-Eye Institute.
Charlie underwent extensive testing at the Mind-Eye, including Dr. Zelinsky’s patented Z-Bell Test℠, a simple but revolutionary method of checking a patient’s overall sense of surrounding space and his or her integration of visual processing with awareness of auditory space.
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, Dr. Zelinsky explains.
“When Charlie was first tested, he could not find the bell with his eyes closed. In some instances, he was reaching out on the side opposite to where Dr. Zelinsky was ringing it,” Darci remembers.
Eventually, Dr. Zelinsky found the right combination of lenses and filters that allowed Charlie to touch the bell “every single time,” he says.
Charlie required several different sets of prescriptive eyeglasses, but his symptoms gradually decreased. He knew the glasses were working, because “my ACT test scores shot up six points when I was wearing them, and that was without doing anything differently than when I first took the test.”
Charlie is referring to the proficiency exam for high school students interested in attending college. “Taking the test before I had my glasses, I scored below average. With glasses, my test score improved to above average,” he says.
As for his high-school teachers, “they were amazed,” Charlie said. “I went from being unable to finish tests and requiring extra reading time to getting all A’s. My reading speed picked up dramatically. My mood changed; I was calmer in class.”
Charlie went on to graduate with honors from Loyola and become a successful paramedic.
Mind-Eye Institute testing “may seem unconventional, but it truly changed my life. The [resulting] eyeglasses gave me a new confidence about getting into college and pursuing a career. And, they have not only impacted me, but they have helped me have a positive impact on other people as a paramedic,” Charlie states.
Charlie’s experience has affected other members of the Bertrand family as well.
“I wear Mind-Eye glasses now, too, and so do my other children,” says Darci. “We are all patients of Dr. Zelinsky, because each of us has some type of visual processing issue, including motion sickness, which apparently is an eye-ear synchronization problem. Frankly we would not go to anyone else than [the optometrists at] the Mind-Eye Institute.”