I started medical school with newly prescribed bifocal glasses. I got at least weekly headaches that were debilitating. After starting school I found out from my mentor and teacher, Ed Stiles, that there was a way to get eyeglasses prescribed in a way that could reduce your prescription and at the same time help your headaches. Dr. Stiles had gone from trifocals to bifocals and he was about 65 at the time. His eyes were still improving. He made a phone call on my behalf and I went to Hartford, CT and saw Steve Shifreen, MD, and got my first cranial eyeglass prescription. I got enough relief from a single change in my prescription that I sought out training to learn how to do cranial eyeglass prescriptions to my patients. I took my first course in 2005 and have been prescribing glasses for my patients since then.
First, let me say that I am not an ophthalmologist. I do not perform traditional eye exams that check for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc. The services I provide are not a substitute for being seen by an optical professional. For that reason I require that anyone that is working with me for eyeglasses to have had a full eye exam within the last two years prior to seeing me and that they continue seeing their optical professional during our time working together. Working together in this way we can be assured that you do not have a condition with your eyes that requires the medical attention of an ophthalmologist or other specialist.
If you have received an eyeglass prescription from your optical professional please bring that with you to your first appointment. Although I can do a full refraction (eyeglass exam) in my office, bringing your prescription saves time.
A simplistic way of describing what we will be doing is using your body’s muscles as an indicator for when your eyes are staining to be able to see. We will use lenses and eyeglasses to work together to minimize or completely remove this muscular tension. That way when you open your eyes your body does not have to “work” to see. It just comes naturally. The reality of what we will be doing is much more complex and involves physics, optics, the properties of metals and plastics and how they all interact with the body. I would be happy to discuss those things in person when you come in. It fascinates me.
Because this approach is scientifically based, is precise, and is fairly technical, I require a few things from your glasses and lenses that most optical professional do not. My prescriptions are precise (to the nearest 1/8th diopter) and I require that the optical lab that grinds your lenses meet that precision. This is usually not hard to accomplish, but can take an extra day or so to get your glasses. Also, because we are going to be fitting the glasses very precisely to your head, I require eyeglass frames that allow the adjustments that need to be made and that will hold them in place. In general, these are either full or semi-rimless metal frames. No memory metal (because I have to heat it to bend it and that discolors the frames), no plastic frames (again because heating is required and the frames may distort), no rimless frames (because they are not designed to be precisely adjusted and the lens will likely crack during the adjustment) and no frames with wide temple arm hinges (they cannot easily be bent). I will talk with you more during your visit on how to select the correct frames. I also have a limited selection of frames in the office for you to choose from or to use as a sizing guide for your eyeglass selection.
We will also talk about lens selection and the pros and cons of each lens material. For the most part we will be using plastic lenses that are fairly standard. They are the least expensive type and distort the visual spectrum the least. If you require bi- or tri- focal lenses we will discuss the types of lenses available and what they can do to your vision – again both pros and cons. We can also talk about tinting and sunglass options if required. Polarized lenses (like the ones you get when you choose non-prescription sunglasses) cause big problems with the head and are not recommended for sensitive folks (and we are all sensitive to these). 3D glasses can also cause problems. If you need to use these for entertainment, we can talk about better choices among what is available.
After you get your glasses made, I adjust the frames to fit you as perfectly as I can. Once we get your glasses adjusted to your head, the glasses themselves become a treatment. You will get instruction in how to care for them. Each time you open your eyes with your glasses on your body begins to treat itself. This is a powerful process and can shift longstanding tension patterns in the body. Most of the time this tension pattern shift will change your eyeglass prescription. For some people this change can happen in a relatively short time (say two to three weeks after getting your glasses) and for some it can take longer (a year or more). There is no set time period, but each change usually means an adjustment to your frames and/or a new prescription for lenses. Since changing your lenses a few times a year can be costly, we will work together to find the most cost effective ways to make this happen.
Just to be clear, this treatment requires that you actually WEAR the prescription that is given to you. We will work together to optimize your comfort level with the prescription you will be wearing. The goal of this type of treatment is to remove “visual somatic strain” (that is the tension the can happen in the head and the body during the process of seeing). It has helped me reduce my headaches (the ones that were caused by glasses by well over 95%). I may now have one per year as opposed to one or more per week. My own journey has helped to benefit many of my patients since then. As I teach this method to other physicians, I continue to gain more knowledge to improve my methods.
If you are interested in exploring this process to help your eyes, symptoms or body, please ask me or my staff. The office number is 317-228-9270.