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Vision, research pay off for Mitchell optometrist

Dr. Jeff Krall of Mitchell speaks at a press conference on Tuesday at The Headache Center of Neurology Associates in Sioux Falls about eyeBrain Medical and a new therapeutic lens called NeuroLens. (Michael Brown/For The Daily Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- You might say all it took is vision.

After years of research, new technology developed by a Mitchell optometrist is now being put to use, helping people who suffer from chronic headaches.

"It was a really exciting day," Dr. Jeff Krall said in an interview with The Daily Republic. "A lot of hard work paid off."

The Headache Center of Neurology Associates, based in Sioux Falls, announced Tuesday it is utilizing new technology developed by a Mitchell company to treat a new-found class of headaches. A news release says eyeBrain Medical, with support from the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the Mitchell Area Development Corporation, has developed a new therapeutic lens called NeuroLens. Krall, who co-owns Mitchell's Krall Eye Clinic with his brother, Joe, said he developed the technology for eyeBrain Medical.

The point of NeuroLens, Krall said, is to help reduce the amount of de-synchronization, or an imbalance the eyes and the brain. Krall said discovering eyes work independently of each other in a three-dimensional mode, rather than a two-dimensional one, to create images was the final piece of the puzzle in creating SightSync, a diagnostic technology used to calculate that imbalance in people who suffer from headaches.

"We've found out this is what's triggering the majority of people in the world walking around with headaches," Krall said.

According to The National Institutes of Health, 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. The symptoms of these headaches are intense pain, nausea, light sensitivity, impaired sleep, dizziness and frustration.

Dr. Carol Miles, medical director of The Headache Center of Neurology Associates, said in a news release that people who think they suffer from chronic headaches may actually be suffering from a new-found class of headaches called eyeGraines.

"When the images for each eye are not properly aligned, the brain struggles to fuse them together. This struggle repeated over and over can lead to 'eyeGraines,' " Miles said in the release.

In preliminary studies, 80 percent of patients experienced reduced or, in some cases, eliminated chronic headaches after using NeuroLens technology, according to the release.

"Working in conjunction with specialists in the eye care field, we have found a way to treat the disparity between visual and neurological systems," Miles said. "We believe when these two systems are out of balance, it often manifests itself in chronic, severe headaches."

Krall said through a clinical study, he and others involved in the project began seeing patients who suffered from chronic headaches, and treating them with SightSync diagnostics and NeuroLens. Most experienced relief, he said.

For people who suffer severe, chronic eyeGraines, he said this treatment is life-changing.

"You see people who have lived one-third of their life in a dark room and just miserable," Krall said. "It's come to be a labor of love. It's just fun to help people. That's probably been the most fulfilling thing that's happened along this journey."

Tuesday's announcement also provided a public endorsement of the project by the state of South Dakota, through the governor's office.

"We're hopeful The Headache Center in Sioux Falls is the first of many to come, and that more jobs will be created in South Dakota to support the manufacturing of this new technology," Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in a written statement.

Press materials say The Headache Center is the first clinic of its kind completely dedicated to the treatment of all types of headaches, and is located in Sioux Falls. The clinic is open Monday through Friday and offers seminars at 5:30 p.m. each Thursday. Krall said the center was built in Sioux Falls largely because the results of the clinical study in which he participated were so positive.

And while he noted it was fun to be recognized after so many years of work and research, Krall said the most exciting aspect for him is how this will help people.

"I've come to the point in life where the most enjoyment I get is helping the people who have a problem," Krall said. "It's been a very gratifying thing to be involved with, probably more so than anything I've done in my life."