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Irlen Diagnostic Clinic

Irlen Diagnostic Clinic (4)

October 29, 2014


Irlen Syndrome has a lot to do with the vision system, but not with eyesight. In some people light interferes with the brain's ability to process visual information. This is sometimes referred to as "visual perceptual difficulties" or "visual processing difficulties".

When we see things clearly, it is easy to assume that everyone else does also. This is not always the case. Research tells us that 15% of the general population (and 50% of the reading disabled population) have moderate to severe problems with seeing print, people's faces and the environment in a normal way. (See the distortions page.) This is often accompanied by eyestrain, difficulty focusing, light sensitivity, headaches or migraines, depth perception, inefficient reading, poor spelling, and a reluctance to write.
If you are unsure if the Irlen Method is for you, fill out the Self Test; a considerable number of "yeses" means we can help.

July 24, 2014


There are many research articles about the Irlen Filter Lenses and overcoming reading difficulties. Most of them show steady or dramatic gains in reading ages after the lenses were prescribed. Copies are available if required. A recent major breakthrough in research on dyslexia at Harvard University clearly links disorders in a person's visual system as a major cause of dyslexia. A team of neuroscientists led by Dr Margaret Livingstone reported their research in the prestigious research journal Proceedings of the American Academy of Science. Their findings show that visual dyslexia is a result of the failure of the visual perception system's neuro-circuits to keep proper timing, and that colour filters can correct this imbalance.

Even though there has been plenty of research to show that coloured lenses do make a difference, this has been the first major research to show why. Even more recently, Dr Jeff Lewine, neuroscientist and scientific director of the Center for Advanced Medical Technologies, of Utah University, using sophisticated instrumentation such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Magnetoencephalography has reinforced these findings. He says, "The data clearly demonstrated that most individuals diagnosed with SSS had a fundamentally abnormal pattern of information processing in which stationary stimuli caused abnormal activitation in brain regions involved in the processing of visual information. Even more intriguing was the observation that individually tailored coloured glasses suppressed the abnormal activity. The data also clearly indicate the ability of coloured glasses to remediate the relevant information processing handicap." If you are interested in the research articles, please let me know.

Contrary to opinions often espoused, there is a lot of good scientific research into Irlen Syndrome, most of which is very positive. IT IS EVIDENCE BASED. Quite a few of the studies are double masked, randomised, placebo controlled and many are published in the peer reviewed (refereed) sections of reputable journals.

Many show improvements in Reading Ages. Here are a couple of examples. Noble, J., Orton, M., Irlen, S., & Robinson, G. (2004) A controlled field study of the use of coloured overlays on reading achievement . Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities. 9(2) 14-22. Shows improvements of between 1 year and 2 months and 2 years and 8 months after using overlays for 3 months.

O'Connor, P.D., Sofo, F., Kendall, L., & Olsen, G. (1990). Reading disabilities and the effects of coloured filters. Journal of Learning Disabilities. 23(10): 597-603, 620. Shows improvements of 6.6 months in rate, 6.9 months in accuracy, and 19 months in comprehension after a 2 week period of using the correct overlays.

Other studies concentrate on the brain and what happens when Irlen Syndrome is present.

An American neuro-psychiatrist, Daniel Amen has performed before and after brain scans of people with Irlen Syndrome while reading. He found that when wearing their Irlen Spectral Filters (coloured lenses), their brain was more balanced and more like normal readers.

Click brain scans to view these images.

Visual Evoked Magnetic Fields in Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome . Jeffery Lewine Ph.D., John Davis, Ph.D., Sherri Provencal, M.A., James Edgar, M.A., and William Orrison, Jr., M.D. This study shows that there is a timing imbalance in visual processing present in those with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (Irlen Syndrome) that is not present in those without the condition.

Dobrin, Robert, M.D., F.A.A.P. Toward an authentic diagnostic impression using clinical composites and Functional Brain Imaging for an improved understanding of Irlen Syndrome . One of the conclusions ... was that Irlen Syndrome, ... contributed to an altered state of consciousness related to anxiety, with a resulting spectrum of fatigue, irritability, and vulnerability with a diminished cognitive reserve.

Jie Huang, Xiaopeng Zong, Arnold Wilkins, Brian Jenkins, Andrea Bozoki, and Yue Cao. fMRI evidence that precision ophthalmic tints reduce cortical hyperactivation in migraine. 2011, Cephalagia. 31(8). 925-936.

More recent studies include the following:

Stephen J. Loew*, Estrella Fernández** and Kenneth Watson* *University of New England (Australia), * *University of Oviedo (Spain)
Incidence of Meares-Irlen/visual stress syndrome in reading and learning disorders: does fluorescentlighting in classrooms affect literacy and numeracy?disorders: does fluorescentlighting in classrooms affect literacy and numeracy? Aula Abierta. 2013. Vol 41(3). 23-32.
This study draws on many sources to link the spread of fluorescent lighting to the decline of literacy and numeracy standards.

Boyle, Christopher and Jindal-Snape, Divya. Visual-perceptual difficulties and the impact on children's learning: are teachers missing the page? British Journal of Support for Learning. 2012. 27(4), 166-171. These authors ask teachers to take notice of the proven advantages that can occur when Irlen Syndrome is identified and treated.

Other studies identify genetic links and biochemical markers.

Loew, S., Watson, K. A prospective genetic marker of the visual perceptual disorder Meares-Irlen Syndrome. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2012, 114, 3, 870-882.

G.L. Robinson, D.L. Sparkes, T.K. Roberts, H. Dunstan. Biochemical anomalies in people with irlen syndrome. Eighth International Irlen Conference Brugge, Belgium 7-11 July, 2004.

Some studies make links to other medical conditions.

Loew, S., Watson, K. The prevalence of symptoms of Scotopic Sensitivity/Meares-Irlen Syndrome in subjects diagnosed wirh ADHD: - does misdiagnosis play a significant role? (2013) Hrvatska revija za rehabilitacijska istrazvanja 49, 50-58. Are some Irlen Syndrome people misdiagnosed with ADHD?

Wilkins, A.J., Baker, A., Amin, D., Smith, S., Bradford, J., Ziawalla, Z., Besag, F., Binnie, C.D., Fish, D. Treatment of photosensitive epilepsy using coloured glasses. 1999. Seizure: 8. 444-449. Some epileptics who react badly to lights (flashing, strobe, flickering) can gain relief from Irlen Spectral Filters.

Loew, S., Marsh, N., Watson, K. Symptoms of Meares-Irlen/Visual Stress Syndrome in subjects diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome . 2014. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology. 14. 87-92. Fatigue is a big factor in people with Irlen Syndrome; in some cases it can lead onto Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

July 23, 2014


About 15% of the GENERAL POPULATION suffers from Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome together with or separate from dyslexia. These individuals suffer from:

Latest News & Updates

  • Training Dates & Course Applications
    Training Dates are flexible, and can be fitted in with participants' busy schedules. Please complete an application form to indicate your interest in the next Screener Training Course.
    Written on September 2, 2014
  • Screeners
    Screeners, who do part of the initial assessment to determine if SSS/IS is present, are located in the following centres: Brisbane, Buderim, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns. The Brisbane locations include Manly West, Alexandra Hills, Victoria Point, Caboolture and Bribie Island. Screeners normally charge $100 to $120 (plus GST if applicable) for their services. See our page on Screeners. Screeners who belong to the Gold Coast Clinic, are based in Toowoomba, Ipswich and the Gold Coast.
    Written on July 24, 2014
  • 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.
    Written on July 24, 2014
  • Symptoms
    About 15% of the GENERAL POPULATION suffers from Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome together with or separate from dyslexia. These individuals suffer from:
    Written on July 23, 2014