Q & A
What happens when I come for testing?
Anyone over the age of 7 can be tested, and occasionally younger students have been screened too.
There are 2 assessments. The first, the Screening Assessment, will tell if you have Irlen Syndrome and if so, exactly which of the many possible symptoms you have. The test includes finding out if you have problems seeing print. It checks your sensitivity to light, and whether you experience environmental distortions. We try out different plastic colored overlays on the page to see if this makes a difference. If you have symptoms and the overlays help, you can return for the second assessment.
During the Tinting Assessment you look through different filters until the correct color combination is found to remove these symptoms. The filter color that will be most helpful is often quite different from the most helpful overlay color. The correct filter does not change the color of the page - it is still white, but a comfortable white.
How common is Irlen Syndrome?
Around 45% of children and adults with reading problems, and 12-15% of regular and gifted people have Irlen Syndrome. For some, Irlen Syndrome will be just part of the puzzle, as they may have other learning problems in addition to Irlen Syndrome. In this case, using the Irlen Filters will make the print easier to see clearly, and the page will be more comfortable to look at, so there will be less strain involved in reading. For some Irlen Syndrome is the only problem and with Irlen Filters, few reading problems will remain, and there is immediate improvement in comfort, reading speed and sometimes reading level.
Has there been research on Irlen Syndrome?
Yes, lots, including positive feedback from people who have been wearing Irlen Filters for at least six years. Research has shown that just as many girls as boys have Irlen Syndrome. One study of 751 children with Irlen Syndrome found that 84% of them had at least one parent who also had Irlen Syndrome. Dr. Greg Robinson, of Australia, has done a lot of research on the improvements in reading that result from using Irlen Filters. There also has been several neuro-psychologists who have used different brain scanning methods, and have seen much improvement in brain functioning when the correct color filters are worn.
Can everyone with reading problems benefit from Irlen Filters?
No. Only if they have Irlen Syndrome.
Occasionally, we find people who have symptoms, but none of the Filters help. In this case, the person is usually able to get some help by reading in dimmer light and using a plastic overlay. A few people will need to wear Irlen Filters AND use a plastic overlay for optimal benefit. A few need two pairs, different colors for bright light and dim light.
Why do I need to have my vision checked before Irlen testing?
The problems you may be experiencing could be caused by vision difficulties. If this is the case, an optometrist or eye specialist will identify the problems and correct your vision using prescription glasses .
If you still experience problems after this, you can be rechecked to see if you also have Irlen Syndrome. Some people have vision problems as well as Irlen Syndrome. In this case, we put the Irlen tint onto prescription lenses. The lenses must be CR39 plastic, uncoated and untinted.
What causes Irlen Syndrome?
Research shows that these perception problems appear to be caused by a difference in one of the visual pathways that carry messages from the eye to the brain. This causes a timing difficulty in the processing of visual information. When the Irlen Filters filter out specific wavelengths of light, this changes the way the brain processes the visual information. The pathway from the eye to the brain appears to function normally. The brain is calmer and not in overuse.
Would colored sunglasses or tinted lenses from an optometrist help?
Not for people who have identified symptoms of Irlen Syndrome. What makes the Irlen Filters effective is the careful identification of the person's symptoms and the selection of a tint that gets rid of these symptoms. Only a qualified Irlen clinician/diagnostician can carry out this process. Each person's combination of colors is unique to them. The Irlen spectral filters do not change the color of the world.