Improving eyesight, brain function after traumatic injury

An optometrist with the vision to look beyond the eyes is seeing a deeper connection that’s helping patients with brain injuries recover.

It’s helped usher in a new chapter in Evelyn Bunte’s life. Just two and a half years ago, she suffered a traumatic brain injury. She was the victim of a violent crime.

She was shot in the head three times and stabbed in the neck. Bunte has made significant progress in her recovery, including regaining her vision, which was completely lost as a result of the attack.

“To this day, I still have issues with my peripherals, but it’s amazing in comparison from being totally blind to now able to hold a job,” she said.

And while her job at Barnes and Noble helped her get back on her feet, it’s her glasses that are helping her see a promising future.

“My depth perception was terrible, and now it’s so much better with these glasses,” she said.

But they’re not just regular eyeglasses. The lenses are designed to improve brain function.

Optometrist Deborah Zelinsky is able to test a patient’s ability to locate sound.

“Instead of being an eye doctor, we’re more like brain doctors,” Zelinsky said.

In the test, she can try different filters and lenses to change how light disperses across the retina. The right mix balances central and peripheral vision and synchs the ear-eye connection, which Zelinsky says enhances attention, social skills, learning ability and overall comfort.

“Most people who have had a concussion of some sort or learning problems, their eyes and ears aren’t synchronized with each other,” she said.

DePaul University associate professor Clark Elliott had the simple test and wore special glasses after struggling for years from the effects of a serious concussion – the result of a car accident. He even wrote a book about his experience.

“The principles are quite simple. She bent the light to healthy brain tissue and that part of my brain would wake up,” he said. “Through the miracle of brain plasticity all of that visual spatial processing in our brains took over and was now routed through healthy brain tissue, and we were working around the damaged tissue.”

“In a brain injured person, a lot of these signaling pathways get disrupted and then they have problems judging what’s in front of them,” Zelinsky said. “The glasses bend the light differently, and with the bent light you end up building new brain pathways.”

Zelinsky is also looking at how the mind-eye connection might relate to anxiety and depression even autism.

To learn more about Dr Zelinsky, check out

To read more about Clark Elliott and his book, The Ghost in My Brian, go to

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