Learn More About Irlen Syndrome and How to Treat It

Learn More About Irlen Syndrome and How to Treat It

Although technology and social media have greatly impacted the way we communicate, the ability to read is still essential to functioning in our society.

Many people struggle to read efficiently due to physical or physiological challenges. If you find yourself experiencing fatigue, irritability, or developing headaches or eye strain while reading, you may have Irlen Syndrome.

What Is Irlen Syndrome?

Irlen Syndrome, or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, is a visual processing problem caused by varying factors including genetics, head injuries, and inflammatory processes such as Lyme disease. Those who experience Irlen Syndrome may experience anxiety, focus issues, or migraines as their brain attempts to properly process visual information.

Most people don’t have difficulties reading black text on a white background. But for those who struggle with Irlen Syndrome, reading can be disorienting or even painful. In severe cases, words can transform into a confusing, disorganized sea of letters. Others see objects as closer or farther away than they are, or in different locations entirely. Symptoms may compare with those of sports-related concussions.

Irlen Syndrome affects 12-14% of the general population. It also afflicts 33% of people with ADHD or autism, 46% of individuals with reading or learning challenges and 55% with head injury, concussion or whiplash.

The Irlen Method

In the early 1980s, while working with college-educated adults who struggled with learning and reading difficulties, Dr. Helen Irlen developed what is now known as the Irlen Method. Dr. Irlen discovered that colored, tinted lenses could be used to filter out the wavelengths of light that are bothersome. Using these overlays while reading can eliminate brightness and distortion issues, reduce stress on the brain and allow it to function better. It’s important to visit a certified Irlen Screener to determine if the Irlen Method is the right treatment for you.

What Are The Symptoms?

People with Irlen Syndrome experience a wide range of symptoms, including:

• Sensitivity to light – especially sunlight, fluorescent lights and glare from headlights or streetlights
• Problems with concentration when reading, often misdiagnosed as ADD
• Complaining of eye pain
• Eyes watering or complaining of dryness
• Difficulty writing neatly or staying on the line
• Strain from computer use
• Fatigue, mood changes, restlessness, or an inability to stay focused
• Trouble reading words that are on white, glossy paper
• Words or letters shifting, shaking, blurring, moving, running together, disappearing, or becoming difficult to perceive when reading
• Feeling tense, tired, or sleepy when reading
• Headaches/migraines
• Problems with depth perception and difficulty with such things as escalators, stairs, ball sports, driving, or coordination

Is Irlen Syndrome Treatable?

Irlen Syndrome is treated through a fascinating application of the science of color. Our brains process light waves of varying lengths as different colors and some colors can irritate the brain. To treat Irlen Syndrome, specific wavelengths are filtered out to correct the visual processing deficit.

Once testing has been completed, a colored overlay is selected that best corrects the individual’s visual issues. Tinted glasses or contact lenses, designed to filter out the disrupting wavelengths of light, can provide further relief. This is a non-invasive treatment and the results are often instant and dramatic.

Correcting Irlen Syndrome can lead to improved comprehension, motivation, self-esteem, and academic/work performance.

Don’t let another school year or business week go by without utilizing your ability to read and process visual information. Get screened for Irlen Syndrome and see how the science of color can dramatically improve your life.

At Amen Clinics, we’re committed to treating our patients with the least toxic, most effective regimen possible. Not all services are offered at each Amen Clinics location. Call us today at 888-288-9834 for availability at a clinic near you, or visit us online to schedule a visit.


  1. Is this something that can go way with age?

    Comment by Cheryl — February 1, 2019 @ 7:00 AM

  2. Many Irlen syndrome patients have ocular-visual issues that are detectable by comprehensive , advanced optometric eye examinations.
    As a minimum, there can be binocular vision issues, and/or accommodative dysfunction, and/or ocular-motor difficulties,and/or visual perceptual deficits. When those issues are treated , the signs and symptoms of Irlen Syndrome disappear and or are reduced. The routine vision exams for glasses and eye health available to the public are not the behavioral vision, functional eye exams performed by optometrists who are certified in vision development by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development ( FCOVD). This type of exam has to be requested , when investigating Irlen Syndrome-like signs and symptoms.
    Their are a number of articles/research in the optometric literature that discuss the above. A selective colored overlay may reduce complaints, but in fact may be masking an underlying ocular/visual dysfunction needing treatment.

    Errol Rummel OD FAAO

    PS…..I am very much in favor of the cutting edge investigation and treatments available by the Amen Clinic, and as one of a few optometric physicians in USA, certified in neuro-optometric rehabilitation, I have recommended specific patients of mine to schedule evaluations at the NY Amen Clinic through my contact person there…Ms. Donna Lalwani.

    Comment by Errol Rummel , OD, FAAO, FCOVD, FNORA, FIALVS — February 2, 2019 @ 8:12 AM

  3. Did you find out if it’s part of Itlen Syndrome?

    Comment by Robbins Bobbitt — February 2, 2019 @ 10:21 AM

  4. What kind of eye doctor would I make an appointment with to make sure there is no underlying problem?

    Comment by Cynthia — February 16, 2019 @ 5:34 AM

  5. Hi Cynthia,
    I am a neuro-specialized occupational therapist in private practice in Gig Harbor WA. I treat post-concussion syndrome, among the symptoms is light sensitivity so I work with an Irlen diagnostician in my area. After I do the initial screening, the diagnostician tests for the best response color filter and my patients get their lenses filtered by an Irlen lab.

    I highly recommend that you search for an Irlen screener/diagnostician in your area and you can find them by going to www.Irlen.com. Don’t let a long drive discourage you, and your insurance most likely will not cover it but it is well worth it. You can use your vision insurance plan for frames and just pay for the lenses to be done by the Irlen lab. Your local diagnostician can help you figure out the details including recommending a neuro-ophthalmologist that is knowledgable about Irlen Syndrome.

    Comment by Mariel C Kraus — May 12, 2019 @ 1:03 PM

  6. I have Irlens and I was told it was never going to go away

    Comment by Harley Jarzombek — July 10, 2019 @ 11:36 AM

  7. How would a practitioner evaluate a 3 year old child for Irlens?

    Comment by Danielle Laine — August 29, 2019 @ 5:19 PM

  8. Hi Dr. Rummel,

    My son was just diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome & Malcognitive Impairment. We are scheduled to have his glasses tinted. I’m very much interested in having his eyesight further evaluated. Do you know anyone in the Los Angeles area with your qualifications who can do the advanced optometric eye exam for my son?

    Thank you,
    Kristine Graves

    Comment by Kristine Graves — September 4, 2019 @ 12:48 PM

  9. I found out about Irlen lenses in the mid 80″s because I am /was dyslexic and my life changed forever. I was 41 years old at that time. I wore them for 8 years. Then I was in an auto accident when I was 58 years old and got a traumatic brain injury. I later found out that Dr. Irlen was studing veterans with traumatic brain injuries so I got tested to see if once again the Iren lenses could help me. After wearing them for just one hour a friend said I was specking differently and suggested that I stop wearing them for a day and record my voice to hear how I was specking and then wear the lenses for a day and then record my voice again. What a difference, just writting this message brings up so many emotions. The lenses have given me a new life. Who would have thought that wearing glasses could help with my verbiagge. They have helped tremendously, getting my headaches under control and so much more. I don’t have a college edication so I can not be a trained screener for Irlen lenses but if I did I would be the first to step up. I have refurred thousands of people to get tested. I have seen unbelievable changes in people, Once again Dr Amen you have hit the ball out of the ball park passing this information about Irlen Syndrome onto others. This is far better than taking a pill or in some cases way to many pills. Thank you.

    Comment by Linda Gifford — October 14, 2019 @ 8:44 AM

  10. My son is diogonosed by irlen syndrom…he was suffering last couple of years .He couldn’t study and he is 25 years old.he need assistance

    Comment by Lizy — November 10, 2019 @ 6:20 AM

  11. Unfortunately not.

    Comment by Cyrus — May 19, 2020 @ 12:02 PM

  12. Hi, can this affect a colour blind test please? My son 23 can see colour fine but when he goes for a medical for work he can’t see the numbers in the circle thanks

    Comment by Leah Mitchell — May 25, 2020 @ 5:05 PM

  13. Hi
    We live in thailand , do you do online test for scotopic sensitivity syndrome???

    Comment by Thanyarat — January 28, 2022 @ 8:12 AM

  14. Yesterday,while I was at work, my cousin stole mmy
    apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a twernty
    five foot drop, just so she ccan be a youtube
    sensation. My applpe ipad iis now broken and she has 83 views.
    I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    Comment by gardırop — November 25, 2023 @ 2:32 PM

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