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   Irlen Syndrome (IS) is a type of sensory modulation disorder causing a variety of symptoms including visual processing deficits and light sensitivity that prevents an estimated 10-12% of the population from being able to learn, read or study efficiently.  This is a brain processing problem and not a vision problem. 

   Visual perception is a higher order processing of visual information. This involves the brain’s ability to accurately understand and process visual information easily and efficiently without stress.  Academic and work performance, behavior, attention, ability to sit still, and concentration can be affected.  Problems most often occur under conditions of glare, bright lighting, fluorescent lighting, high contrast, black/white contrast, smaller print size, computer, IPad, and with the demand for continued performance.  The Irlen Method is backed by professional and scientific advisory boards of leading experts in the fields of medicine, optometry, ophthalmology, neuroscience, research, education, autism, and dyslexia.  

   Until now, it has baffled educators and the scientific community because it remains undetected by standard educational, visual and medical tests. Individuals with IS perceive the printed page and sometimes their environment differently. They must constantly make adaptations or compensate. Individuals may be unaware of the extra energy and effort they are putting into reading and perceiving. Symptoms include light sensitivity, inefficient reading, slow reading rate, attention deficit, strain or fatigue, or poor depth perception.

   Research has shown that about 46% of individuals with reading problems and learning disabilities have this type of modulation and processing disorder, either in isolation or existing in combination with other reasons for academic difficulties.  Individuals with Irlen Syndrome may exhibit any of the following:  slow reading rate, inefficient reading, poor reading comprehension, inability to do continuous reading, strain and fatigue while reading, and difficulty in other academic areas such as writing, copying, spelling, and math computation.  Individuals experience a variety of physical symptoms including headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness, stomachaches, fatigue, exhaustion, irritability, fidgetiness, and anxiety.

   This is not a reading program, and students will still need instruction to acquire the necessary reading skills.  Correction of this problem is with the use of Irlen overlays and filters.  Use of the Irlen Spectral Filters does not negate the importance of teaching reading skills and the need for practice for comprehension.  However, print clarity, stability, and reading comfort provided by Irlen Spectral Filters are a building block for learning, allowing skills to be learned and used effectively. 

   Irlen Syndrome can also affect attention span, concentration, motivation, productivity, and classroom performance.  Therefore, some individuals with undiagnosed problems of Irlen Syndrome might be considered to be underachievers who may have been told that “they could do better if they tried harder.”  Other individuals have been misdiagnosed with behavioral or attitudinal problems or as having ADD, hyperactivity, dyslexia, or learning disabilities.

   The patented Irlen Intervention Method uses precision tinted filters, worn as glasses (or colored overlays placed over reading material) to reduce or eliminate perception difficulties and light sensitivity. An intensive diagnostic assessment determines the web filter color. Since 1983, the Irlen Method has gained increasing support as a result of worldwide research and testing. Results include improved reading accuracy, better comprehension, increased reading speed, reduced strain and fatigue, improved academic performance, improved self-esteem, better sports performance and more effective study time.


Irlen Center Boston