Irlen Syndrome

Irlen Syndrome is a visual processing problem that affects 12-14% of the population. Symptoms include problems with reading, light sensitivity, depth perception and headaches.

It is a perceptual dysfunction and can be identified through testing. It can be remediated with specially designed colored overlays or spectral filters, which are worn as glasses or contact lenses.


Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual disorder that causes the brain to process visual information differently than it normally does. This can cause a wide range of symptoms including glare sensitivity, poor concentration, headaches, fatigue and problems with depth perception.

People with Irlen Syndrome have an over-active brain, which struggles to interpret the visual information they receive from their eyes. This can affect everything from school performance to health and well-being.

Symptoms are often vague and vary from person to person. Some may only have one symptom while others may have multiple issues that affect their reading, writing and other tasks.

Many sufferers have a family history of Irlen Syndrome, and research suggests it is hereditary. The condition can also be triggered by head injuries or other traumatic events.

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Irlen Syndrome is a visual processing disorder that can affect academic and work performance, behaviour, attention and concentration. It can also affect light sensitivity and eye strain.

It is a relatively new condition, first identified by a teacher in New Zealand and later by American psychologist Helen Irlen. Unlike other learning and processing difficulties, such as dyslexia, Irlen Syndrome can not be diagnosed by standard educational or medical tests.

The problem is that people with Irlen Syndrome see the printed page differently from others. It is not because they can’t see the letters on the page, but because they struggle with interpreting and processing incoming information from the page.

The condition is treatable with tinted glasses and contacts. Once you’ve been tested and given the correct colored overlay combination, it can help alleviate light sensitivity, headaches, fatigue, reading and depth perception problems.


Research has shown that individuals with Irlen Syndrome have problems processing visual information. They see words that move, shift, wave, appear haloed or ripple and are also clumsy and often have problems with depth perception.

These symptoms are all related to light sensitivity. The Irlen Method uses specially formulated colored overlays or spectral filters worn as glasses or contact lenses to reduce or eliminate perception difficulties.

Some early critics of the research claimed that it did not control for placebo effects or experimenter bias. However, the majority of studies that are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals have supported the validity and reliability of the Irlen Method.

The Irlen Method has been officially recognized by a number of agencies across Australia including: Department of Employment, Education & Training; Board of Studies-NSW; Board of Secondary Education; Commonwealth Employment Service; NSW Health; and New South Wales Vocational Rehabilitation Services. These agencies have found that the Irlen Method can make a big difference to people with learning disabilities, who have problems that are difficult to resolve by other methods or for whom Irlen Syndrome constitutes one layer of their disability.

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Irlen Syndrome is a condition that causes difficulties with visual processing. It can prevent an estimated 10-12% of the population from learning, reading and studying effectively.

Irlen syndrome (also known as Meares-Irlen Syndrome, Scotopic Sensitivity, Visual Stress or simply Irlen) affects people of all ages. It’s exacerbated by factors such as lighting, brightness, glare, high contrast, patterns and colours.

The problem is that some individuals with normal eyesight are sensitive to specific wave lengths of light, which can cause them symptoms like sensitivity to light, headaches, poor concentration, fatigue and problems with depth perception.

Irlen Screenings are conducted by specialists to determine whether an individual has a profile consistent with Irlen Syndrome. Those who do have it will be referred to a Full Tint assessment where they will be fitted with custom tinted Irlen filters worn as glasses or contact lenses.

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