Irlen syndrome – also known as Meares Irlen Syndrome, Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome or visual stress – is thought to arise from a problem with the visual system in the brain and how it interprets visual information.
Symptoms of Visual Stress
This condition can also be thought of as a sensitivity to light, which can cause many different symptoms, including:
- eye strain
- ambient light sensitivity
- sensitivity to light coming off a written page
- trouble reading and following lines
- problems with depth perception
- written letters fading in and out of the page, or even moving or disappearing
- seeing colours when they are not there
- visual snow or static
Have a look at the image on the right. If the lines appear to throb or move, or if colours fringes or blobs seem to appear, you may be suffering from visual stress.
Is it the same as dyslexia?
People with Meares-Irlen Syndrome are often given a diagnosis of dyslexia, due to difficulty with reading and comprehension despite having normal intelligence.
The sad reality is that a child can be labelled a poor learner, when in actual fact they can’t remember what they read because they were struggling so much to read the words on the page.
Not all dyslexics have this condition, but studies show nearly half of diagnosed dyslexics have the syndrome.
Is visual stress real?
Irlen syndrome falls into that category that is often questioned as real. A strong body of evidence shows a significant reduction in symptoms of visual stress through the use of coloured lenses.
Many people share these same visual stress symptoms, even though their regular health and vision testing comes back normal. It is estimated that 15-20% of the population has Irlen Syndrome and over 50% of dyslexics.
How is it diagnosed?
An visual stress test involves a documentation of symptoms and a thorough eye examination by an optometrist to rule out any other causes of the visual symptoms. The patient is then given a Pattern Glare Test – this will highlight any visual stress that they may experience when reading print, and will show whether or not coloured lenses could be of benefit.
Each individual with Meares-Irlen Syndrome has a unique colour tint that is perfect for them – the key is finding that exact match for each patient.
This is where the Intuitive Colorimeter comes into play.
This machine helps the patient and optometrist find the perfect colour and tint level – out of 18, 000 possible combinations.
Once the perfect colour is found, the patient can try reading through the tint to see if it helps them. The immediate positive impact is often remarkable!
Read more about Meares-Irlen Syndrome here.