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Irlen syndrome

Irlen syndrome (also known as Meares Irlen Syndrome) arises from a problem with the way the brain interprets visual information.

By Published On: 30 November 20212.1 min read

Irlen syndrome is a condition where the brain does not process visual information correctly. It is not a failure of eyesight, rather it is a perception problem. However, it can result in eye various conditions.

Symptoms of Visual Stress

This condition can also be thought of as a sensitivity to light, which can cause many different symptoms, including:

  • eyestrain
  • headaches
  • 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 below. If the lines appear to throb or move, or if colours fringes or blobs seem to appear, you may be suffering from visual stress.

Irene's syndrome test.

Is it the same as dyslexia?

People with Meares-Irlen Syndrome often get a diagnosis of dyslexia. This is due to difficulty with reading and comprehension despite having normal intelligence.

Because children struggle to read the words on a page, teachers can easily assume they are slow learners.

Not all dyslexics have this condition, but studies show nearly half of diagnosed dyslexics have the syndrome.

Is visual stress real?

The very existence of Irlen syndrome is sometimes called into question. 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 do optometrists diagnose Irlen syndrome?

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 takes a Pattern Glare Test. This highlights any visual stress they may experience when reading print. It also shows 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 we idetify the perfect colour, the patient reads through the tint to see if it helps. The immediate positive impact is often remarkable.


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