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What is Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome?

Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome ( or Irlen Syndrome) is a distinct type of visual dyslexia. Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is related to difficulty with light source sensitivity, and colour. Research has shown that 50% of those with reading difficulties suffer from Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome.

This Syndrome often is found in a complex of other learning disabilities such as auditory difficulties, poor handwriting, hyperactivity, eye muscle imbalances, allergies, and emotional overlay from feelings of educational or personal inadequacy. In addition to these more common signs, some individuals also exhibit other inhibition disorders which make thought, language, interpretation, and even control of supposedly willful activity difficult.

Often these individuals have been labeled “dumb”, “stupid”, or “lazy”. This label is usually given to those students who appear bright but are not producing to a level considered appropriate for their intellect. In fact, these individuals usually are expending more effort to complete assignments. Often parents and teachers become frustrated with such individuals because attempts at remediation produce little gains.

Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is a dysfunction which may be hereditary. As such, one is born with the condition and it does not improve or deteriorate with time. What does improve is the individual’s ability to adapt coping strategies to compensate for their educational problems.

Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is a distinctively different visual problem from visual acuity and refractive errors. Therefore, visual examinations by ophthalmologists and optometrists will not detect this condition.

Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is different condition from that which is evaluated by a developmental optometrist. Therefore, this condition is not amenable to vision therapy.

“I thought every one sees the page the way I do. They are just smarter than me. I am so frustrated because I have to work so much harder than other students in order to get the same grade”. Irlen lens candidate