What is Irlen Syndrome?
Irlen Syndrome (also referred to at times as Meares-Irlen Syndrome, Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, and Visual Stress) is a perceptual processing disorder. It is not an optical problem. It is a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information. This problem tends to run in families and is not currently identified by other standardized educational or medical tests.
Irlen Syndrome can affect many different areas, including:
- Academic and work performance
- Ability to sit still
This problem can manifest itself differently for each individual. This problem is not remediable and is often a lifetime barrier to learning and performance. If you suffer from any of the following, Irlen Syndrome might be your problem:
- Print looks different
- Environment looks different
- Slow or inefficient reading
- Poor comprehension
- Eye strain
- Difficulty with math computation
- Difficulty copying
- Difficulty reading music
- Poor sports performance
- Poor depth-perception
- Low motivation
- Low self-esteem
Symptoms of Irlen Syndrome
- Bothered by glare, fluorescent lights, bright lights, sunlight and sometimes lights at night
- Some individuals experience physical symptoms and feel tired, sleepy, dizzy, anxious, or irritable. Others experience headaches, mood changes, restlessness or have difficulty staying focused, especially with bright or fluorescent lights.
- Poor comprehension
- Misreads words
- Problems tracking from line to line
- Reads in dim light
- Skips words or lines
- Reads slowly or hesitantly
- Takes breaks
- Loses place
- Avoids reading
- Strain and fatigue
- Tired or sleepy
- Headaches or nausea
- Fidgety or restless
- Eyes that hurt or become watery
Attention and Concentration Problems:
- Problems with concentration when reading and doing academic tasks
- Often people can appear to have other conditions, such as attention deficit disorder, and are given medication unnecessarily.
- Trouble copying
- Unequal spacing
- Unequal letter size
- Writing up or downhill
- Inconsistent spelling
- Strain or fatigue from computer use
- Difficulty reading music
- Sloppy, careless math errors
- Misaligned numbers in columns
- Ineffective use of study time
- Lack of motivation
- Grades do not reflect the amount of effort
- Difficulty catching balls
- Difficulty judging distances
- Additional caution necessary while driving
- Words on the page lack clarity or stability; i.e., may appear to be blurry, moving, or disappear
See if you have Irlen symptoms by taking a two-minute quiz.
An Irlen Screening takes an hour. A Certified Irlen Screener is specially trained to provide perceptual testing that will accurately diagnose whether Irlen Method and environmental and educational accommodations will provide immediate improvements in reading, math, handwriting, attention/focus, fluency, comfort during visual and computer tasks, and calm sensory overload.
Irlen Screenings provide information and awareness of sensory processing disorder symptoms and their possible causes which can mildly or severely impact a child or adult, and may be traced genetically for generations, across family members, from childhood or due to an illness or injury. Over 15% of all people have some degree of light sensitivity and are often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions unless the professional tester is specially trained.
Once a diagnosis of Irlen Syndrome is established, various interventions can immediately relieve unique symptoms and improve function, learning, working productivity, stress working at the computer, attention, behavior and emotional balance. During the testing session, improvements may be observed and documented in such areas as reading or math fluency, accuracy, comfort, sustained attention, visual tracking and convergence, visual tracking, clarity of text, and ease and enjoyment during visually stressful tasks. With specific accommodations, improvement can be seen in handwriting, attention/focus, behavior, reading music score, testing results, as well as, a decrease in headaches, migraines, visual stress, and discomfort.
Irlen Method has over 30 years of evidence-based, medical & educational research from centers of neurology, psychology, psychiatry, public education, ophthalmology, reading remediation, vocational rehabilitation, the military, and prison schools. Irlen Method has been featured at major professional conferences, research journals, 60 Minutes, National Geographic, ABC/NBC News, Amen Clinics, Harvard Medical Journal, Bulletproof Executive, and universities internationally. Irlen Diagnostic Centers are found throughout the world. Millions have been helped by Irlen Method. Check out the latest neuro research from Cornell University.
Irlen Filter Diagnostic Testing
Irlen Filter Diagnostic Testing usually takes 2 hours and is conducted after an Irlen Screening has determined that the client has Irlen Syndrome. Under certain conditions, an Irlen Screening and Diagnostic Testing can be conducted on the same or consecutive days to maximize travel time for out of town clients.
We have seen such significant improvement of Zoe’s grades, reading fluency, comprehension, as well as benefits of better mood and less stress and anxiety attacks since using her overlays -- Zoe's Mom
One or two testing sessions is usually all that is needed to provide immediate relief. Improvements can be observed immediately from sensory stress symptoms. Because scotopic sensitivity syndrome, or light sensitivity, is pervasive and often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, symptoms can mimic or contribute to other conditions: dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADD/ADHD, anxieties, autism, migraine/headaches, Lyme Disease, brain injuries/strokes, and other neurological conditions. Irlen Syndrome is often exacerbated by fluorescent or bright lights, high contrast patterns, working at computer screens, driving especially at night, during sustained activities such as testing or long periods of sitting, stress, and much more. By decreasing visual stress, other processing problems can improve such as executive functioning, auditory processing and motor coordination.
Immediate improvements are observed in the testing session so guesswork is eliminated. The use of Irlen spectral filters worn as tinted RX or no RX glasses or contact lenses can provide relief in all situations where light and visual stress is a problem.
It is recommended that clients come in for yearly Irlen Re-Tint sessions to insure tints are accurate. Already tinted Irlen tints often can be re-tinted inexpensively, if faded or adjustments need to be made from the original tints to increase accuracy and benefits. Tints can change due to medical conditions and changing status, trauma such as sports or car injuries, medications or medication dosage changes, and can fade within a year. In most cases, the Irlen Re-tint session takes about 30 minutes if done yearly, longer if one waits. If you move, Irlen Diagnostic Centers are found in 47 countries and 27 states, and any Irlen Diagnostician can provide a re-tint session by obtaining your tints from our Irlen Labs, in California or Australia. Consumers may not contact Irlen Labs for their tints RX but must go through an Irlen Diagnostician for new or retinted filters.