Reading disabilities and tinted filter lenses
Have you heard of tinted lenses as a remedy for dyslexia, reading disabilities, rapid eye fatigue when reading, headaches, sore eyes, and poor depth perception? The technique uses precisely prescribed tinted filter lenses to correct perceptual disorders and reading disabilities with some very exciting results. The technique was developed in 1984 by a Californian psychologist, Helen Irlen, who was the director of a research project investigating adult reading disabilities at the University of California.
Prominent educators in the field of Special Education, including Dr Greg Robinson, University of Newcastle, and Dr Paul Whiting, University of Sydney, consider this to be the biggest breakthrough in learning disabilities for more than twenty years. However, it must be stressed that this method does not help every person with reading disabilities. Dyslexia can be auditory or visual or both. Research indicates that over half of the people, both children and adults, who find reading difficult, fatiguing or stressful, can be helped considerably with Irlen Filter Lenses. However, even when it is found that Irlen Filters are of benefit, don’t expect miracles. If there are other Learning Difficulties as well, then these will also have to be remediated.
Helen Irlen called this disorder Irlen Syndrome/Scotopic Sensitivity (IS/SS). Essentially it is a specific sensitivity of the visual/perceptual system to certain frequencies within the white light spectrum. This appears to be an inherited physical disability associated with confusion in the visual/perceptive system resulting in a range of symptoms, most of which interfere with effective reading performance. It should be stressed that these symptoms persist despite thorough optometric assessment. Sometimes mild prescription lenses or eye exercises are prescribed with marginal improvement, but this fails to address the source of the problem, which is visuo-perceptual, not optometric. This new technique, with carefully prescribed Irlen tinted lenses, pinpoints the specific difficulties and the Irlen tinted lenses acts as a filter to prevent specific frequencies of light from reaching the visual- perceptual system. It needs to be emphasized that clients need to have had an optometric assessment within the past eighteen months. This is to ensure that any refractive or astigmatic optometric problems have been corrected prior to assessing for the Irlen Filter Lenses.
The symptoms of “Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome” can be found on our Observation form. It should be stressed that not all the symptoms described need be present for Irlen Filter Lenses to be helpful. If several of these symptoms persist, despite eye checks, then an Irlen Diagnostic Assessment is recommended. Remember, all clients should be seen by an optometrist before attending an Irlen Clinic.