Information for Optometrists and Opticians

Irlen syndrome is a neurologically-based visual perceptual dysfunction. It affects the processing of visual information from the eye to the visual cortex and results in cortical hyperactivation.

As part of standard protocol followed by all Irlen practitioners, clients are required to have had a recent eye exam (ideally within the past 6 months) by a licensed eye-care professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist) prior to their initial Irlen testing. Irlen Syndrome is not an eye problem. Correcting for Irlen Syndrome will not resolve existing optometric problems; correcting existing optometric problems will not resolve issues associated with Irlen Syndrome. We work closely with optometrists and some optometrists and ophthalmologists are also certified Irlen practitioners.

Selling Frames to Irlen Clients

Frames purchased should allow minimal light to enter the eyes over the top or at the sides. As some clients with Irlen Syndrome are tactile defensive, they find it difficult to tolerate the feel of frames. Please take care to ensure frames are comfortable as well as attractive.

Technical Issues

The Irlen Institute can tint CR39 lenses provided that no anti-glare, anti-UV or anti-scratch treatments were applied. These lenses must be accompanied by a valid prescription. The Irlen Institute can also supply such lenses in a plano or a single vision prescription. In this last case, a valid prescription is required, including a P.D. measurement . In such event, the client will come back to you to have the lenses cut and edged to fit the frame purchased from you. We do not sell frames at our Irlen Centres although a few stock frames can be ordered through the Irlen Institute. If a sturdier lens is required, please contact us for more information.

Progressive Lenses

The Irlen Institute does not provide progressive lenses because of the precise measurements requiring the client to be physically present. If the chosen glasses have a complete frame, please supply the lenses, cut and assembled in the frame. The exception is with rimless or drill-mounted frames. Please supply only the cut lenses. The client will bring the lenses back to you for re-assembly.

Wraparound Lenses

Some Irlen clients need the added protection of a wraparound lens. To provide a better fit, we ask that the client pick the desired frames at your office and have prescription lenses prepared and mounted by you. The client will then bring the finished product to us for tinting. If Plano lenses are required the frame is sent in and the Irlen Institute provides the wrap lenses.

Hi-Index Lenses

Please contact us for detailed information about providing Hi-Index lenses that can be tinted.

Why Should Opticians Stay Away from Copying Irlen Spectral Filters?

The degree of precision required cannot be "eyeballed," even by the best technician. Many such clients return to us with headaches, discomfort and unsatisfactory performances.

Please do not copy an Irlen Overlay Color into glasses

Human physiology is such that the colors required when "looking through" are quite different than what is required to "look at." These incorrectly tinted glasses may cause headaches, discomfort and unsatisfactory performance. Obviously, we will not assume any responsibility in such a situation.


There has been a substantial body of research since the 1980s. The efficacy of Irlen Spectral Filters is supported by more than 100 studies led by independent researchers who published their results in peer-reviewed, respected professional journals in the fields of education, medicine, and psychology. Among these are the Journal of Learning Disabilities, Australian Journal of Special Education, Perceptual and Motor Skills, Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, Journal of Research in Reading, Behavioral Optometry, and Opthalmological and Behavioral Optics, to name a few. A recent review established that of 62 selected studies, 56 had given positive results, 45 noted significant improvement in (the case of) specific reading skills, 11 gave positive results for optical accommodation, improved eye movements, and reduced headaches and migraines. Studies are ongoing in Australia, Italy, Brazil, England, Switzerland, and New Zealand.

Key studies are presented below:

Chouinard, BD, Zhou, Cl, Hrybousky, S, Kim, ES, Commine, J. (2011). A functional neuroimaging case study of Meares-Irlen syndrome/visual stress (MISViS). Brain Topography, Nov., 29.

Huang, J., Zong, X., Wilkins, A., Jenkins, B., Bozoki, A., Cao, Y. (2011). fMRI evidence that precision ophthalmic tints reduce cortical hyperactivation in migraine. Cephalagia, June 14.

Kruk, R., Sumbler, K., & Willows, D. (2008). Visual processing characteristics of children with Meares—Irlen syndrome. Ophthal.Physiol. Opt., 28, 35-46.

Noble, J., Orton, M., Irlen, S., Robinson, G. (2004). A controlled field study of the use of coloured overlays on reading achievement. Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 9, 14-22.

Robinson, G. L., & Foreman, P. J. (1999). Scotopic sensitivity/Irlen syndrome and the use of coloured filters: A long-term placebo controlled and masked study of reading achievement and perception of ability. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 89(1), 83-113.

Whiting, P., Robinson, G.L., & Parrot, C.F. (1994). Irlen coloured filters for reading: a six year follow up. Australian Journal of Remedial Education, 26, 13-19.

Wilkins, Arnold (2002). Coloured overlays and their effects on reading speed: a review. Ophthalmological and Physiological Optics, 22, 448-454.

Wilkins, A.J., Evans, B.J.W., Brown, J.A., Busby, A.E., Wingfield, A.E., Jeanes, R.J., & Bald, J. (1994). Double-masked placebo-controlled trial of precision spectral filters in children who use coloured overlays. Ophthalmological & Physiological Optics, 14, 365-370.