Understanding Irlen Syndrome

The Irlen Method helps those with visual processing deficits that affect learning and attention, also known as Irlen Syndrome.

A girl wearing Irlen lenses

Irlen Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome was first identified in the early 1980’s by Educational Psychologist Helen Irlen. Helen Irlen at that time, was Director of the Learning Disability program at California State University in Long Beach, California. Before the syndrome was described in her book, Reading by the Colors, perceptual reading difficulties was yet unknown and there was no treatment available for it.

Although the symptoms are similar to dyslexia, the Irlen Syndrome differs in that the symptoms are caused by light sensitivity issues of an individual. Many people were, and still are, misdiagnosed as dyslexic, slow learners or identified incorrectly as ADHD.

Irlen Lenses for Better Focus

The Irlen Method is a revolutionary and non-invasive technology using coloured overlays and spectrally modified filters (lenses) worn as glasses which allows the brain to properly process visual information accurately. The Irlen overlays and filters on the lenses reduce light sensitivity and can greatly improve reading fluency, comprehension, concentration and attention.

Reading glasses show how Irlen lenses help focus reading material

Irlen Syndrome Facts

The Irlen Syndrome occurs on a continuum from mild to extremely severe.

Mild Profile

Normal or high achieving person who reads slowly or must reread more than usual for comprehension.

Moderate Profile

Person considered to be an under-achiever or “lazy”, does not work up to their potential, feels frustrated that effort put forth at school does not result in achievement.

Severe Profile

Person appears to have intractable problems learning to read, and/or severe learning problems has a genetic basis – in 84% of students identified with Irlen Syndrome, one or both parents also were identified with it (Robinson, Foreman, & Dear, 1996) may be misidentified as ADD, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia.

Irlen Syndrome Affects

  • 12-14% of the general population
  • 46% of individuals with reading and learning difficulties
  • 33% with ADHD
  • 33% with autism
  • 55% with head injury, concussion or whiplash

Common Misdiagnosis of Irlen Syndrome

Irlen Misdiagnosed as Dyslexia icon
Irlen Misdiagnosed as ADHD icon
Irlen Misdiagnosed as Behaviour Problems icon
Behaviour Problems
Irlen Misdiagnosed as Psychological Disorders icon
Psychological Disorders

Irlen® - Where the Science of Colour Transforms Lives

Colour Burst
Graph showing how Irlen lenses can improve your life
Brain Scan showing results of wearing and not wearing glasses

Get Tested

The Irlen Method for testing and assessment is available in Alberta. We can help with treatment for individuals with Irlen Syndrome.

Irlen Southern Alberta

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Irlen Northern Alberta

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