What Is Irlen Syndrome?

Irlen Syndrome is a visual processing disorder, meaning that the brain has difficulty processing visual information. This hereditary condition causes a range of symptoms, including struggles with reading and writing, and it can result in learning difficulties. At Irlen Centre Edmonton, we’re committed to educating people about this common (yet frequently misdiagnosed) condition and helping with treatment.


FAQ About Why Irlen Syndrome Causes Learning Problems

What is Irlen Syndrome?

Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder that may result in difficulty with reading (particularly black print on a white background), writing and learning. For over 30 years, the Irlen Method has helped people around the world. There are more than 170 Irlen Clinics in 46 countries around the world. As much as 12-14% of the population may be affected by Irlen Syndrome, and the numbers are higher for those with learning difficulties and head injuries.

What are the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome?

The symptoms of Irlen Syndrome differ depending on the individual, but they frequently affect reading and learning. Symptoms include:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Reading problems
  • Writing problems
  • Headaches and nausea
  • Eye strain and fatigue
  • Attention and concentration difficulties
  • Depth perception problems
  • Difficulty reading music

How do the Irlen Overlays and coloured paper help?

The Irlen Overlays absorb certain wavelengths from the light spectrum so that they are not reflected back into your eyes from the white page. That reduces the amount of energy required by the brain to cope with the reading on the white page.

How do the Irlen Spectral Filters help?

The Irlen tinted lenses absorb most of the specific segments of the light waves that cause your brain to overwork whenever you are in the light. It further lessens the amount of effort when you are doing academic work, reading, writing or thinking. The Irlen Spectral Filters lessen the impact that fluorescent lighting and bright lights have on your brain in many different environments

What else can I do to help with Irlen Syndrome?

There are many adaptations that people with Irlen Syndrome can make to improve their learning:

  • Use recommended coloured overlays for all reading material (especially white paper, high-gloss paper and/or in fluorescent lighting)
  • Encourage the use of a bookmark as a guide for moving down the page
  • Encourage the use of a bookstand or 2-inch binder to change the angle of the reading and writing materials
  • Allow a brimmed hat or editing visor to be worn in school or at the workplace
  • Reduce or eliminate bright or fluorescent colours, stripes, plaids or polka dots, and large or glittery jewellery or buttons
  • Photocopy tests, handouts and assignments onto preferred colour of paper
  • Do written work on preferred coloured of paper
  • Use preferred coloured markers on whiteboards. Write in shorter columns
  • Allow extra time for assignments and tests. Provide options for Scantron answer sheets: use a ruler and coloured paper, score on the test, and have someone transfer answers
  • Allow for breaks during extended periods of reading or writing
  • Minimize copying of material by having notes photocopied for student
  • Make adaptations for computers, SMART Boards and PowerPoints – place cling on top of screen, change background and text to preferred colours, lower screen brightness and increase screen refresh rate


Lighting Recommendations:

  • Workspace should take maximum advantage of natural light
  • Use incandescent lighting instead of, or in addition to, fluorescent lights
  • Change to full spectrum fluorescent lighting
  • Turn off some banks of lights
  • Use dimmer switch to turn down lights
  • Position desk between banks

Where can I learn more about Irlen Syndrome?

Find more information about Irlen Syndrome at www.irlen.com and www.irlencanada.ca.

If you or a loved one has Irlen Syndome or suffers from some of its symptoms, call Irlen Centre Edmonton today. Our tutorials and tinted lenses can make a huge difference!

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