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Success Stories, Traumatic Brain Injury

Therapeutic Eyeglasses ‘Life-Altering’ for Brain-Injured Son, Family Says

Mind-Eye Optometrist’s Confidence Causes Austin to Smile

“He had lost all hope. He could not see what might be on the other side,” recalls Misty Risley, referring to her son, Austin Voss, who resides in the Atlanta, Georgia region. “Then she looks at him and says, ‘I think we can fix this,’ and a smile came on Austin’s face – the first time I had seen him smile in years. I started to cry.”

The “she” Misty references is Carla Adams OD, an optometrist at the Northbrook, Illinois-based Mind-Eye Institute. Dr. Adams told the family, after extensive testing of Austin, that certain information pathways in his brain had been damaged by his head injury. ‘”There is no restoring them, but we can create new ones,’” Misty says, quoting Dr. Adams.

Deborah Zelinsky OD, founder and research director of the Mind-Eye Institute, adds that Austin’s traumatic brain injury also had disturbed the integration of his eyes and ears. “It is as if his sensory systems are hitched to a wagon, and they are all forced to run at different speeds. They are not working together,” she reportedly told the family following Austin’s first clinic visit.

The Mind-Eye Institute is internationally known for its use of therapeutic eyeglasses – “brain” glasses -- and other advanced optometric tools to manipulate the amount, angle, and intensity of light passing through the retina. Such manipulation creates changes in the brains of patients suffering the symptoms of traumatic head injury, concussion, stroke, and neurological disorders. Using light to stimulate the retina also has proven effective in building undeveloped visual processing skills in children – and adults – with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other learning issues.

Environmental signals in the form of light enter the retina and eventually are converted into electrical signals. Those signals propagate through neurons and interact with key brain structures that affect not just the visual cortex but other, significant regions of the brain.

“The right mix of prescriptive lenses, filters, and prisms modifies the distribution of light on the retina. These modifications occur in both space and time, thereby altering the dynamic relationship between the mind’s retinal inputs and the body’s internal reactions and responses. The implication is that this retinal stimulation can promote changes in basic physical, physiological, and even psychological systems involved in motor control, posture, emotion, and thinking,” Dr. Adams explains.

“Initially, we were all kind of skeptical about the Mind-Eye, wondering how a pair of eyeglasses could make any kind of difference in our son’s life,” says Austin’s father, Larry Voss. “Even today, we are still trying to process how the science [of the Mind-Eye Institute] has been able to help relieve our son’s symptoms.”

Austin’s struggles began in 2014 when he sustained a skull fracture at age 16. “The four-wheeler that I was riding flipped. I was unconscious for a few moments, and then transported to the hospital,” he says. “It took 68 stitches to close his head wound,” Misty adds  

The head injury precipitated eight years of what Austin calls almost constant pain and a host of other debilitating symptoms, including light and sound sensitivities, cognitive and concentration issues, and problems with balance and walking. “I would be walking up the stairs, for example, and suddenly my balance would give out, and I would start falling backwards. 

“Riding in cars also was challenging, and I was not comfortable in public places like restaurants because just too much would be going on around me,” Austin continues. His father agrees, saying, “On family vacations, Austin would spend most of his time in the hotel room.”  “Darkness was my friend,” Austin states

“The traumatic brain injury disrupted Austin’s peripheral eyesight as well, causing his surrounding world to become too overwhelming and energy-draining. That is why he felt more comfortable in the quietness of his room,” says Dr. Adams.

In fact, the head injury and resulting symptoms delayed Austin’s completion of his high school studies by almost two years and even prompted emotional changes. “I was quick to get angry,” Austin states, remembering one instance in which he lashed out at his younger brother for simply tapping on a table. “The noise of his tapping was unbearably loud; I could not stand it.”

Meanwhile, the family turned to neurologists, pain interventional specialists, and occupational and speech therapists to bring relief to Austin. “Although they were all helpful to a degree,” Misty states, “eventually we hit a wall. Austin was being treated for pain, but no one seemed able to find the source of his problems. Doctors were telling us that Austin’s injury was complex and that he might have to live with his problems.”

American country singer Don Williams Jr. once said, “The road of life twists and turns, and no two directions are ever the same. Yet, our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” 

So, too, did Austin’s life – and journey to recovery -- take an unexpected turn when one of his former high school teachers learned about the Mind-Eye Institute in a secondhand way and passed on the information to the Voss family. 

Could the Mind-Eye and its special glasses prove the miracle for which the family was hoping? Austin and his parents expressed early doubts but made an appointment anyway.

Austin underwent extensive testing at the Mind-Eye Institute in January 2022 and received his first pair of “brain” glasses a couple of weeks later. After a brief period of adjustment, “I began wearing the glasses more and more and noticing a significant decrease in my symptoms, especially in the pain. I had been living with pain all day every day, but now it was becoming almost non-existent.”

Austin’s stepmother, Shannon Voss, calls the Mind-Eye glasses “life-altering,” and Misty refers to them as “miracle glasses.”  “Austin has only been wearing them three months, and they have already accomplished more than anything else we have tried in the past eight years,” Misty says.

“Austin is a totally different person today,” echoes Austin’s dad. “He is smiling, laughing again.”

The Mind-Eye Institute knows the importance of working as a team with other scientific and health professionals. The Institute’s recognized expertise is in retinal processing, which can serve as a foundation for other brain functions. Although Austin Voss experienced significant symptomatic relief, his results are not always the norm nor are they guaranteed for every patient.