Irlen® Syndrome

December 7, 2017


This issue, I would like to concentrate on Irlen® Syndrome (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome). Helen Irlen’s® research has gained more respect over the last two decades and it is now estimated that approximately 15% of the population suffer from the syndrome; some may have Dyslexia also, but not all do. It is estimated that just 10% have Dyslexia.


She also noticed that some clients with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) may have been mislabelled. Diagnosticians and screeners are now in 24 countries fitting over 100,000 children with Irlen® spectral filters and millions use appropriate screened-for coloured Irlen® overlays.


I fell across The Irlen® Method in 2005 when researching early reading failure and I wanted to help pupils who lacked motivation, never read for pleasure or had poor concentration. Not many educationalists seemed aware of Irlen® Syndrome and so my passion with Irlen® and Dyslexia was born.


During the second year of my Masters course, I was shockingly diagnosed, at the age of 40, with Irlens®. My tutor was amazed to see that I have got this far academically without being diagnosed.


With hindsight, I can see similarities with myself and my boys, as we have to reread many times for information to ‘sink’ in, we have to print it off and read again and we suffer from fatigue when reading. It can be inherited and so my Autistic son and my eldest son who has SpLD, will now be tested too.



People who have Irlen® Syndrome have a visual-perception issue; the difficulty being caused by the way the brain interprets the information that is being sent through the eyes.


Sufferers can perceive things in an unstable, distorted fashion; where the print becomes less clear as they continue reading. Signs, labels, maps and charts can be difficult to see as can looking at computers and the television.


It concentrates on sensory overloads, depth perception, light sensitivity (to fluorescent, bright lights with/without colour and pattern distortions), sensory integration and discomfort when reading.


Sufferers may also complain of:
* The glare on white backgrounds or of bright lights
* Dizziness, fatigue, headaches, migraines, blinks or squints a lot, sore eyes or stomach aches.
* Difficulties with handwriting, reading (may be choppy and hesitant), spelling, maths, reading musical notes, comprehending, writing, copying and note-taking.
* Difficulties using whiteboards, overheads and computers.
* Under-performing in Sports.
* Eye tracking issues and stress induced by the volume of print on the page.
* Are accident-prone and/or drops or knocks things over.
* Have behavioural problems, easily distracted, fidgety and can’t stay focused.
* Their academic performance is poorer in test conditions.


Anyone presenting with several of these characteristics should be screened for Irlen® Syndrome after a general eye sight test. The Screening test is non-invasive and very cost effective. I will screen at the coloured overlay stage, but will refer you on after this if need be, as Irlen® filters can only be provided by accredited Irlen® diagnosticians. Sometimes the Irlen® coloured overlays/filters are enough to reduce the symptoms alone.


I have been referring children for a while and it is always rewarding to see these same children suddenly making progress at school, being less anxious, focusing for longer, having their self-esteem raised and seeing the smile on their face when their test scores go up! I am now able to screen these children myself and the whole process is more consistent with no waiting times.


Irlen® Syndrome exists on a continuum of slight to severe and treatment maybe part of the missing link in bringing relief from a number of the aforementioned symptoms.

For further information please contact


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