What is Irlen?

What is Irlen? ...and other Q&As


· Irlen screening: Irlen testing
· Irlen screener:
The Irlen tester you go to to figure out if you have Irlen and to get overlays to treat your symptoms.
· Irlen diagnostician:
The Irlen tester you go to to get your Irlen lenses. They also do screening.

What is Irlen Syndrome?

Short answer: Having Irlen syndrome basically means light causes you some problems with reading, attention, headaches, fatigue, or other interesting things like depth perception. Lots of people don't realize their symptoms are related to light. Or they think their symptoms are normal. For example, some people say they "don't like to read" when it's really hard for them to read because of their symptoms (ex. can't concentrate, get sleepy, words move, etc.)

Sound mysterious? Check out the symptoms and self test pages for info. If you want to get into the big, scientific explanation read more below.

So what's the big, long, scientific explanation?

Right. Well, it gets pretty technical and scientific, but Irlen advocate and author Rhonda Stone has written a good explanation of exactly what Irlen syndrome is:

Irlen Syndrome, Meares-Irlen Syndrome, or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is a very specific problem associated with the photoreceptors of the eye and how wavelengths are absorbed and processed by multiple systems of the brain... [Click for entire explanation]

Is it contagious?

No. But you could tell your little brother it is, just for fun.

Can it be cured?

Well, you can cope by using overlays, wearing special lenses, reading in dim light or lots of things like that.

Should I see a doctor?

See a doctor right away if you have sudden changes in your vision or are sensitive to light. Get your vision tested to make sure you don't have any vision problems. You can have Irlen syndrome visual perceptual problems even if you have 20-20 vision.

Are you born with it?

Kids in some families do seem to be more light-sensitive. People can develop the syndrome. Symptoms may come on after a head injury or illness. People seem to be more sensitive to light when their hormones are out of whack at adolescence and menopause.

Do I have Irlen syndrome?

Beats me. Go to the symptoms page or the self-tests page and see if you have any of the symptoms. You probably won't have all of the symptoms. I just had headaches, but the headaches were caused by light and they went away when I filtered that light properly with Irlen lenses. If you have symptoms, you should get tested. Keep reading.

I think I have Irlen. What should I do?

Go to the how to get tested page to find a screener or diagnostician.

Then there are 2 different levels of help:

Solution #1: Overlays (For reading)

You get overlays from a screener or diagnostician. Overlays are colored plastic sheets that you lay over anything you're reading. (Lay over. Overlay. Clever.) This can help a lot with your reading by making it more comfortable and faster plus making it easier to understand what you're reading. (It still won't be easy to understand Shakespeare.) Your grades should go up, your mother will cry because she's so happy, etc.

You can only lay an overlay over so much. If you wanna help things like your depth perception, headaches, night driving, comfort on a bright day, or basically anything other than just reading, you're going to want some Irlen lenses.

Solution #2: Irlen Lenses (For everything, reading included)

You get Irlen lenses after working with a diagnostician to discover your specific lens color. Irlen lenses are basically colored glasses, but they're specially tinted to the individual lens color that is exactly right for you. These lenses filter out the bad wavelengths of light specific to your eyes. This helps with reading, depth perception, night driving, headaches, eyestrain, fatigue, etc.

P.S. If you're not so hot on colored glasses, you can get colored contacts instead. (Personally, I think my colored glasses are kinda' cool, but you're entitled to your own opinion.)

How can I get some overlays?

Contact your nearest screener and set up a screening. When you get screened for Irlen, you'll spend the last part of the screening time trying out different combinations of overlays and finding your specific overlay color(s). These overlays are yours to use at home, school, work, etc. If you already know your overlay color(s), and you need some extra overlays (you lost yours, your dog ate them, etc.), you can buy overlays directly from Irlen's site.

How can I get those colored glasses?

Contact your nearest diagnostician and set up an appointment to get tested for lenses. You find your personal lens color with the diagnostician. Then your diagnostician will send an everyday, ordinary pair of glasses in to the Irlen lab by mail to get them tinted. You'll get your tinted lenses back in the mail.