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Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Rhonda Stone

Hello, Ann. Within the next 10 years, neuroimaging will "prove" the truth hiding in the human brain. You likely are not aware that more recent neuroimaging than that promoted by phonological processing advocates is demonstrating that the "phonological processing hypothesis" itself is flawed. (See neuroimaging related to "sentence reading" rather than naming words from word lists.) You likely also are not aware that some neuroimaging has been done that documents authentic positive effects in the brains of some individuals -- not all, some -- from tinted lenses. "Disability glare" is a recognized condition. "Discomfort glare" is a recognized condition. "Contrast sensitivity" is a recognized condition. "Photophobia" is a recognized condition. "Seasonal Affective Disorder" responds to blue wavelengths (light color). Jaundice in newborns responds to blue wavelengths (light color). A newly discovered protein in the brain called "melanopsin" that has a direct effect on both circadian rhythms and mood responds to blue wavelengths (light color). People with cataracts are benefitting from peach-colored lenses. A number of controlled studies HAVE been completed on the effects of color on individuals hypersensitive to lighting conditions and do show benefit from colored filters -- the field of Ophthalmology chooses to ignore these studies in favor of two-paragraph letters to the editor published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Both of my children have this problem. I have this problem. Our family has benefitted tremendously from either learning to manage light in our environment or from tinted lenses. I recognize you believe you are helping people by warning them away from colored overlays and/or tinted lenses. But there is more science emerging to support the hypothesis than not. Children in our schools should not be doomed to a label of "dyslexia" when science has NEVER investigated the possibility that human VARY in the type and volume of light they need to achieve stability under visually stressful conditions. White paper with black print reflecting light from as many as 36 to 50 fluorescent tubes in a single classroom constitutes visually stressful conditions. Some of us, unfortunately, have visual systems that are more sensitive than, apparently, yours. We deserve to have our issues properly investigated AND interventions that make life more comfortable and visually stable.

Rhonda Stone
Parent Advocate, Light-based health and learning issues
Author, The Light Barrier


Dear Ms. Stone, I am not arguing that people have visual problems, I am arguing that colored lenses are not the place to START if your child has difficulty learning to read.

You likely are not aware that more recent neuroimaging than that promoted by phonological processing advocates is demonstrating that the "phonological processing hypothesis" itself is flawed.

Evidently you are familiar with this research. Please provide citations (author, title of paper, and where published.)

(See neuroimaging related to "sentence reading" rather than naming words from word lists.) You likely also are not aware that some neuroimaging has been done that documents authentic positive effects in the brains of some individuals -- not all, some -- from tinted lenses.

"Disability glare" is a recognized condition.

Evidently you are familiar with this research. Please provide citations (author, title of paper, and where published.)

"Discomfort glare" is a recognized condition.

Evidently you are familiar with this research. Please provide citations (author, title of paper, and where published.)

"Contrast sensitivity" is a recognized condition.

Evidently you are familiar with this research. Please provide citations (author, title of paper, and where published.)


pediatric notes: go here and search for "irlen"

Ron Zeno

Thanks for the great commentary on Irlen. Certainly appears to be quackery from what evidence I've seen, especially the type of evidence that Rhonda Stone has provided - aimed at swaying peoples' emotions rather than providing verifiable evidence. I'll stick to proven methods and those based upon valid and reliable evidence, thank you Ronda.


Arnold Wilkins

I have been asked to respond to the comments on this site.
There is now a body of scientific evidence that coloured filters can improve reading speed. The evidence is reviewed on my website, in my recent book "Reading through colour" (Wiley, 2003) and in papers in the British scientific press. In brief:
1. 5% of children in mainstream education read more than 25% faster with an overlay of their chosen colour, for whatever reason.
2. 20% of children in mainstream education show some benefit, though less pronounced.
3. The benefit in those children who show large improvements in speed is sustained for more than 3 months.
4. Placebo effects are an insufficient explanation.
5. The proportion of children with "dyslexia" who benefit is not substantially greater than the proportion in the general population, although the proportion of children with autism who show an improvement in reading speed is far greater than in age- and IQ-matched controls.
6. None of the studies on which the above assertions are based has used Irlen methods or Irlen filters. The studies have, however, taken account of the necessity for selecting a tint to suit an individual's needs. The requirement for precision tinting of this kind has been shown in two placebo-controlled double-masked studies, and in a forthcoming paper in which the reading speed was measured under light of various different colours in individuals identified as benefitting from coloured filters. A departure from optimum by a CIELUV colour difference of 80 was sufficient to eliminate most of the advantage conveyed by the appropriate colour.
I hope this is of some help.
Arnold Wilkins
Professor of Psychology
University of Essex
United Kingdom.

Sue Nix

I am merely a lay person, not a professional in "light" disorders. But I can tell you I need one!! This discussion was interesting and I rather gathered from my research that the Irlen method is mostly speculative. So what is the consensus, are people like me with 35 years of headaches, pain, jiggling letters, field of vision loss, photophobia as nutty as some say we are???

liz ditz

Dear Sue, of course you aren't nutty. What I am militating against is the Irlen camp making money off of children's suffering. Make no mistake, having a language-based learning diasability is a cause of suffering. What I am militating against is jumping to the wrong conclusion. The Irlenists say the first thing to do, if your child has difficulty learning to read, is to address the visual system: the eyes, by applying various filters/glasses etc.

That is wrong and abusive. That is like saying, if your child has a laceration that is spouting blood, the first thing to do is to to go get vitamin K, because obviously your child has a clotting disorder.

liz ditz

Dear Sue, of course you aren't nutty. What I am militating against is the Irlen camp making money off of children's suffering. Make no mistake, having a language-based learning diasability is a cause of suffering. What I am militating against is jumping to the wrong conclusion. The Irlenists say the first thing to do, if your child has difficulty learning to read, is to address the visual system: the eyes, by applying various filters/glasses etc.

That is wrong and abusive. That is like saying, if your child has a laceration that is spouting blood, the first thing to do is to to go get vitamin K, because obviously your child has a clotting disorder.

Rhonda Stone

Interesting way of approaching this (the analogy of a wound). Liz, for some people, addressing hypersensitivity to lighting conditions through color adjustment gives them the comfort and visual stability to be able to perform efficiently and effectively. How the brain processes light energy is a significant contributing factor to their health and learning issues.

Why blame the Irlen organization for what is, in truth, the failure of science? Science has failed to segregate those who have reading and perceptual problems caused by visual processing issues from those who have problems caused by some other source. YOU appear to lump all children with learning disabilities into the same category and condemn all people who use tinted lenses. Doing so is neither logical nor helpful to children.

You asked for sources to research demonstrating the benefits of colored overlays and tinted lenses to some people. There is plenty of it. Please see my book, The Light Barrier; Helen Irlen's book, Reading By the Colors; Arnold Wilkins' book, Reading Through Color; and a growing number of books and book chapters that are including color as an effective intervention for some (not all, some).


The problem with the Irlen organization is that they promise a cure that they can't deliver. That is still quackery in my book.

Same is true of the developmental opthamologists. It is not in the eyes, people, it is how the brain processes language.


As an Irlen screener for over 10 years I have screened both children and adults. The symptoms are real, as well as the possible benefits from proper intervention. One of the things I admire most from the Irlen people is their consistent rule of always making sure the client has had a recent eye exam. We do not want to confuse a physical difficulty with a perceptual one.

When a client is screened you can tell if he is showing mild, moderate, or severe symptoms and whether or not this technology can be helpful.
I am very upfront with what my findings show, and usually caution the candidate to use the overlays and check out the benefits for himself.

I give parents local clinic information, so if and when their young child shows increased symptoms they will know where to go for further help. As a primary school teacher for over 20 years I know how frustrating it can be when children need help and are labeled as lazy or unmotivated when you know something else is going on.

The plastic overlays cost approximately $3.50 per sheet. I screen my own students free of charge. Oh, yes I am making a financial killing!

In some respects I don't see the reason for this controversy. Irlen doesn't say her method can help everyone, and the client tells us if the overlay/lenses improve the difficulty or not.

There are so many of us out there honestly trying to help others and see real benefits.
Yes, if I were a parent I would try to help my child. History shows us that new methods aren't always initially accepted. Like many things, you become a believer if you or someone close to you are helped.



As an Irlen screener for over 10 years I have screened both children and adults. The symptoms are real, as well as the possible benefits from proper intervention. One of the things I admire most from the Irlen people is their consistent rule of always making sure the client has had a recent eye exam. We do not want to confuse a physical difficulty with a perceptual one.

When a client is screened you can tell if he is showing mild, moderate, or severe symptoms and whether or not this technology can be helpful.
I am very upfront with what my findings show, and usually caution the candidate to use the overlays and check out the benefits for himself.

I give parents local clinic information, so if and when their young child shows increased symptoms they will know where to go for further help. As a primary school teacher for over 20 years I know how frustrating it can be when children need help and are labeled as lazy or unmotivated when you know something else is going on.

The plastic overlays cost approximately $3.50 per sheet. I screen my own students free of charge. Oh, yes I am making a financial killing!

In some respects I don't see the reason for this controversy. Irlen doesn't say her method can help everyone, and the client tells us if the overlay/lenses improve the difficulty or not.

There are so many of us out there honestly trying to help others and see real benefits.
Yes, if I were a parent I would try to help my child. History shows us that new methods aren't always initially accepted. Like many things, you become a believer if you or someone close to you are helped.



I say again, anecdotal information is suggestive but not proof that a given treatment works. Dot,

Like many things, you become a believer if you or someone close to you are helped.--No, actually, I don't become a believer. Specific learning disabilities, like dyslexia, deserve the best science has to offer.

I am sure there are a minority of individuals like Sue Nix for whom colored lenses are helpful.

What I object STRENUOUSLY to is the Irlen organization making money from children's suffering.


"Colored Lenses and filters do nothing to improve reading ability".
I just want to say that Scotopic sensitivity is not all quackery. If colored sheets don't work for you then maybe that's not what the problem is.
When I try to read articles/books on a white background using black ink I can only read for a maximum 30 seconds, before all the words become fuzzy or start to swirl on the page. I learned to compensate as a child by learning to speed read. I read fast enough so that I could take in as much information as I could before the words dissapeared. However, I was told about using colored sheets over my reading material, and that was the answer! I use a blue and green combination of plastic covers over my material and I can read as long as I want. The words do not transform in any way. I'm ecstatic!

Greg Robinson

Dear Ann

I was recently alerted to your web site and encouraged to respond. In particular, I would be interested to comment on your claim that there is no valid and reliable evidence for the positive effects of coloured filters on reading achievement. It concerns me that such a claim could be made in light of the numerous controlled studies which have recently appeared in the literature. I notice that the studies you did cite were from 1991 and 1993, but there have been a large number of positive investigations since that time.

Although recent studies have identified improvements in reading with the use of coloured filters, it needs to be emphasised that while reported improvements in print clarity using coloured filters may assist learning to read, there is still likely to be a need to develop word recognition skills through the provision of additional reading tuition. These recent studies have reported improvements in reading when using coloured plastic overlays or coloured computer monitors (Croyle, 1998; Jeanes, Busby, Martin, Lewis, Stevenson, Pointon et al., 1997; Scott, McWhinnie, Taylor, Stevenson, Irons, & Lewis, 2002; Tyrrell, Holland, Dennis, & Wilkins, 1995; Wilkins & Lewis, 1999; Wilkins, Lewis, Smith, & Rowland, 2001; Williams, Le Cluyse, & Littell, 1996), as well as improvements in eye strain, headaches and reading when using coloured lenses (Chronicle & Wilkins, 1991; Evans, Patel, & Wilkins, 2002; Good, Taylor, & Mortimer, 1991; Harris & MacRow-Hill, 1999; Lightstone, Lightstone, & Wilkins, 1999; Robinson & Conway, 2000; Robinson & Foreman, 1999; Solan, Ficarra, Brannan, & Rucker, 1998). A number of studies have used placebo controls (Bouldoukian, Wilkins, & Evans, 2002; Jeanes et al., 1997; Robinson & Foreman, 1999; Wilkins, Evans, Brown, Busby, Wingfield, Jeanes, & Bald, 1994; Wilkins & Lewis, 1999). These studies have all been reported in peer reviewed journals, who have reviewers with expertise in their fields. These reviewers are unlikely to recommend the publication of studies which are not well controlled or have serious methodological flaws.

In addition, a credible scientific theory has been presented and discussed in the literature for some years. This theory relates to a deficit in the magnocellular visual neurological pathway. A recent review of research and series of studies relating to this theory has been published by Chase, Ashourzadeh, Kelly, Monfette, and Kinsey (2003). The paper by Chase et al. reviews a number of studies which suggest that red light disrupts magnocellular tasks and that the use of blue filters (which filter red light) could result in an improvement in reading performance.

I have attached the reference details for all of the studies cited so people can read them and make their own decisions.

Yours sincerely

Associate Professor Greg Robinson, PhD
Special Education Centre
University of Newcastle

Bouldoukian, J., Wilkins, A.J., & Evans, B.J.W. (2002). Randomised controlled trial of the effect of coloured overlays on the rate of reading of people with specific learning difficulties. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 22, 55-60.

Chase, C., Ashourzadeh, A., Kelly, C., Monfette, S., & Kinsey, K. (2003). Can the magnocellular pathway read? Evidence from studies of colour. Vision Research, 43, 1211-1222.

Chronicle, E.P. & Wilkins, A.J. (1991). Colour and visual discomfort in migraineurs. The Lancet, 338, 890.

Croyle, L. (1998). Rate of reading, visual processing, colour and contrast. Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 3(3), 13-20.

Evans, B.J.W., Patel, R., & Wilkins A.J. (2002). Optometric function in visually sensitive migraine before and after treatment with tinted spectacles. Ophthalmological and Physiological Optics, 22, 130-142.

Good, P.A., Taylor, R.H., & Mortimer, M.J. (1991). The use of tinted glasses in childhood migraine. Headache, September, 533-536.

Harris, D. & MacRow-Hill (1999). Application of Chroma-Gen haloscopic lenses to patients with dyslexia: A double-masked placebo-controlled trial. Journal of the Optometric Association, 70(1), 629-640.

Jeanes, R., Busby, A., Martin, J., Lewis, E., Stevenson, N., Pointon, D., & Wilkins, A. (1997). Prolonged use of coloured overlays for classroom reading. British Journal of Psychology, 88, 531-548.

Lightstone, A., Lightstone, T., & Wilkins, A.J. (1999). Both coloured overlays and coloured lenses can improve reading fluency, but their optimal chromacities differ. Ophthalmological and Physiological Optics, 19(4), 279-285.

Robinson, G.L., & Conway, R.N.F. (2000). Irlen lenses and adults: A small scale study of reading speed, accuracy, comprehension and self-image. Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 5(1), 4-13.

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 and Motor Skills, 89, 83-113.

Scott, L., McWhinnie, H., Taylor, L., Stevenson, N., Irons, P., Lewis, E., Evans, B., & Wilkins, A. (2002). Coloured overlays in schools: Orthoptic and optometric findings. Ophthalmological and Physiological Optics, 22, 156-165.

Solan, H.A., Ficarra, A., Brannan, J.R., & Rucker, F. (1998). Eye movement effiency in normal and reading disabled elementary school children: Effects of varying luminance and wavelength. Journal of the American Optometric Association, 69(7), 455-464.

Tyrrell, R., Holland, K., Dennis, D., & Wilkins, A. (1995). Coloured overlays, visual discomfort, visual search and classroom reading. Research in Reading, 18, 10-23.

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 and Physiological Optics, 14, 365-370.

Wilkins, A.J. & Lewis, E. (1999). Coloured overlays, text and texture. Perception, 28, 641-650.

Wilkins, A.J., Lewis, E., Smith, F., & Rowland, F. (2001). Coloured overlays and their benefits for reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 24(1), 41-64.

Williams, M.C., Le Cluyse, K., & Littell, R. (1996). A wavelength specific intervention for reading disability. In R.P. Garzia & R. London (Eds.), Vision and Reading. St Louis: Mosby.

Dot Pellegrini West

I received a wonderful e-mail from Niall Brown from Toronto, Canada--without a return e-mail address-- in response to my comment on this website. Niall, you can get the information you need if you go to . Thank you for letting me be of assistance! Best wishes for finding the help you need.

[email protected]

Carolyn Lord

I have just got colored glasses and am saddened to hear that tinted glasses are viewed as quackery. I have many problems with lights and glare and headaches and letters moving around. With my colored lenses the print stays still and is bold and I can read and I don't get headaches. My glasses are the closest thing to magic that I will ever know. But they do work. If your child can't read, simply ask her/him why. If they mention letters moving around or that the page is too bright then colored lenses might be the answer. When it was discovered that the earth was round I am sure people reacted in the same way. As sure as the earth is round, colored lenses work.

Elaine Stinson

So from this web site I have gotton the idea that you do not beleive in Irlen. Let me tell you that you have never experienced what I have experienced or what my child has went through. You give me the idea that you think Irlen is "Quackery". Well I don't need any degree or scientist to see the difference in my child. I can read his report card and see for myself. I went for the screenings with him asnd I seen him read unhampered for the first time in his life. I saw his smile a mile wide when he seen the page clearly. I was there when he barfed his guts out because for the first time in his life he seen things that satyed on the page and then had to look again at what he had seen before and got stomach sick. I have seen my child go from a recluse to a normal child. I have seen him sink into the classroom not wanting to be seen or asked questions, and now I have seen him become the leader. Out going, agressive, ready for a challenge, that is what he has become. You may say all you want about quackery. I HAVE SEEN THE RESULTS!!!!! And I challenge you to do the same. If you think you have the cure than what is it? You say Scientists don't beleive it. Well do the need to? Your web site may hamper people from getting tested and helped? Do you have something better to offer them? My son has been my scientist. He has helped me to see what he sees. Before we heard abour Irlen neither of us knew what was wrong. Some said he was ADHD. I knew different. He thought he was "just dumb". I knew different. Irlen has made the differenceand yet people like you, so highly educated that others listen to you, have narrow minds because you can't scientifically figure it out. Isn't proof in the pudding? I have the proof. He is a happy, young boy of 9 that lost a whole year of scholl because no one knew what was wrong with him. Until one man told us about Irlen and changed his life.
Did you know that it runs in families and I have found that it is ther reason my brother never graduates from school 20 years ago? All his life he struggled with reading. Just a dummy or so he thought. no hope until now.
I am not saying there are not other things that children can have. Like Dyslexia. But Dyslexic children may also have Irlen.
People need to wake up and realize thatit is the children who need help and lets ask them if it helps. Lets watch a few progress. Watch a child be tested. OPEN HE MIND!!! Don't shut doors because some scientists can't prove it. If we only knew all the things that scientists can never prove. Ther are more than Irlen Syndrome. I welcome any of your questions and will answer them to the best of my ability. NOT scientifically but from experience.
If you truly are a caring educator, than you will honestly look into some of he experiences of these people and see the difference.
Good Luck!!!
Elaine Stinson
[email protected]

Jay Davis

There is something very unprofessional and unscientific about using the term "quackery", because it is a very subjective term, not an objective term that a true scientist would use. It somehow taints the credibility of what you are saying.

Kathy Rand

What an interesting site! I have a 9 year old daughter that has always experienced difficulties with learning. On specific testing at school however she is deemed to be almost spot on for her age? Nevertheless she always seems to struggle with her tasks at school, has low self-esteem and sees herself as a dummy. Recently when we were reading together she started describing things about the page "Mummy I see different colours on the page. These 3 words are joined together. This word I can't see at all, it is blotted out." The school say she will not get extra learning help because she has tested as 'normal' (and presumably because of cost). But I know she has difficulty learning and I would dearly love to be able to help her along the path to easier learning. Any suggestion???


This is the text of the e-mail I sent to Kathy:

Hello, and thanks for visiting my site. I want you to know that I'm not a professional psychologist or leaning disabilities specialist. I am the mother of a child whose learning disabilities have been remediated successfully.

You didn't say which country you live in, but I can see from your e-mail address (the "au" part) that you are probably in Australia.

Here in the United States, the state-sponsored schools are motivated to find that kids DON"T have problems--even when they manifestly do--because the law mandates services (which are expensive) for kids with diagnosed problems. So parents who KNOW their kids have learning problems go outside of the school system, to licensed educational psychologists, for diagnostic tests (and treatment, in some cases).

The first thing I would do is have her vision and focussing skills tested by a pediatric ophthamologist. (Here in the U.S., optometrists have tried to increase their business by presenting themselves as "developmental optometrists" and prescribing eye exercises to "treat" dyslexia and other learning disabilities. The research does not support the claims.)


Then, if her vision is normal, I would try to get her evaluated--where are her strengths, and where are her weakness?--by a qualified educational psychologist.

Here are some web sites and programs I know to be reputable:

Schwab Learning--FABULous website with lots and lots of resources for parents:

Learning Disabilities Resource Community--Canadian

Here's the International Dyslexia Association (international but not Australian, but full of good advice) web page for parents:

LD online also has a wealth of resources:

This is the hompage for the Lindamood-Bell Learning Centers, which is a proven program to teach children with learning disabilities to read.

This is the Slingerland homepage--a proven program-- which may help you find a tutor or program for your daughter:

Here's a link to an Australian association

This seems OK, but I am a bit hesitant about "tests at a distance"

Here is a hot-off-the press study on the dyslexic brain:

Here are some sites that you might find useful, but I don't endorse:

I don't know this woman, but this page is helpful in detailing what goes wrong in reading disabilities

(I don't know why she thinks Lindamood-Bell needs to be modified for Australians--I'm a little dubious about that. Elsewhere on her site she endorses things such as aromatherapy and Bach Flower Essenses, which I regard as so much hokum.)

I am also personally dubious about "retained primitive reflexes" causing learning disabilities.

DDAT has been both praised and criticized. Here's a page on it from me, with links

It's available in Australia. I wouldn't pay for it myself.

I hope this helps.


I am an individual who has worked with dyslexic children for over 8 years using various treatments you consider to be quackery. I'm not going to bore you with any number of hundreds of tear-jerking success stories I have to share. I have seen the impact colored overlays have had on dyslexic individuals, and it is astounding. I encounter anxious parents and skeptics daily who demand the science behind overlays and their effectiveness, all the while appearing as if they're about to form a torch-bearing mob to have me burned a the stake for practicing witchcraft. The only answer we have is that "it works". We don't know why, and I don't care anymore. I hover around the poverty level with the rest of my coworkers and the organizations founder. Before demonizing all organizations as snake-oil salesmen, I would suggest performing more reliable research - such as placing overlays in the hand of a 16 year old who - up until now - couldn't get through 2 sentences of text . When you hear him start reading back to you miraculously, you might reconsider your liberal usage of the term "quackery".

Until you come up with a cure for dyslexia, please let the current treatments work. I think your efforts might be better used focusing on creation, rather than destruction. We have enough problems overcoming dyslexia. We don't need you fighting us as well.


I repeat, trying colored overlays or glasses is not the place to START.


> When you Google "dyslexia", the sponsored links are > for Orton-Gillingham Phonics (respectable); a quack > overlay treatment;

I was only referring to usage of term "quack" to define what has proved to be a very effective overlay treatment for us. (i'm assuming we're talking about the same URL

Elaine Stinson

Dear Liz,

As a mother of a child that has been helped by the Irlen Method, I am confused at your negativity to the Irlen Method. I feel bad that others reading your website may never go for help after reading it. Children will struggle for the rest of their lives. If they are like my son, then no amount of phonics training could or would be able to STOP the words from moving all over the page. Children like my son that do not get help will continue to avoid reading. They will not do good in school and will start to consider themselves dumb.

My son knew his phonics. And that is why when we finally placed the right colour of lenses over his eyes he read fluently for the first time in his life!!! I stress here, it wasn't the phonics he was missing!!! The whole problem was the words would not stay in place on the page!!!! He liked to use his finger to "hold the word down". (as he said)

I am not at all sure where you learned about Irlen, but you have alot of misinformation. The Irlen method does not teach reading. It does not replace phonics. All material from the Irlen Institute states clearly that it is NOT a method for teaching children to read. Most of the children and adults who seek help are like my son and family. They have learned to read, the know there phonics. It is the reading flow, fluency, and comfort that is the problem. Even the strongest advocates of phonics recognize that reading is more than just phonics. Therefore none of your comments make any sense. They do not apply to Irlen.

Misperception is a HUGE problem for many children and it is preventing them from being able to use their phonics ar reading skills. Why are you preventing parents from learning about misperceptions and exploring a solution???

Phonics cannot improve flency nor reading comfort. Reading stress is a well docomented problem and deserves to be addressed.

Two or three years ago,my daughter, who is turning 11 this month, started to come home from school with headaches. Headaches so bad she could not function and she missed plenty of school because of it. We took her to the Doctor,who sent her for every test needed to determine the cause. All came back negative. We were told she gets Migraine Headaches and would have to learn to live with them. She is a A+ student and really has no trouble reading, (she knows her phonics!!!) except she will only read short stories!!! Hates novels because there are too many words on one page. Of course after we had my son helped with Irlen we recognized the symptoms in her and we are going to get her helped too. She tells us florescent lights drive her carzy. Everytime we go into a mall she gets a headache. When she is looking at a person that is speaking in the front of a room intently, the person's body disappears and only their head remains. She then looks away or readjusts her eyes and the body comes back. This mainly happens when the lights are florescent.My son and daughter both hate bright lights. Dentist lights are torture.

My son could not go down-hill skiing without using googles or sunglasses becasue the snow and sun made him feel sick, now he wears hir Irlen lenses and finds the day wonderful.

So you see not only people who can not read can have Irlen and can get help from a Irlen lenses. You say it is not the place to satrt. Well I never started there. But I did FINISH there. And where I finished is the important part because my son received the help to go on and ace those reading tests. He has become an example to his teachers and others are receiving help because we found the place to finish. Irlen has made the difference in our lives and because of it we are strong advocates on belalf of Irlen.

I still challenge you to find out more about Irlen befoe you hamper others from being tested. Watch a child be tested. Watch the progress a child makes after they receive their glasses. It is amazing.


Rhonda Stone

I'd like to thank every parent, scientist, and individual working to help children with light-based reading difficulties who has responded to this lengthy discussion on Irlen syndrome.

Liz, I'd like to point out a couple of things to you and I hope you will take a few minutes to seriously consider them.

1) The National Reading Panel (NRP), which reaffirmed in 2001 the "skills based view" of reading development (systematic, explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension) originated by the National Research Council (NRC) in 1998, states in its summary findings that explicit phonics instruction has little benefit for children with reading problems older than the age of 9.

2) In April 2003, Sally Shaywitz -- the only person to sit on both the NRP and the NRC -- published her book, Overcoming Dyslexia, in which she lays out the "phonological processing hypothesis," in detail, including the existence of a so-called "word form area" of the brain where we are supposed to store the words that we decode, recode, and commit to memory.

3) In July 2003, Cathy Price and her team at the Institute of Neurology, London College University (a prominant European university), published a scientific paper in Brain and Language, a very reputable scientific journal, that demonstrates clearly, simply, and elegantly that there is NO word form area of the brain -- completely undermining the phonological processing hypothesis.

4) You fail to realize that most parents in this country have had their children's heads stuffed full of phonics before, in desperation, they seek other interventions -- including colored overlays and tinted lenses. (Phonics has been the intervention used in resource rooms for decades and Sally Shaywitz herself in her book acknowledges that special ed. programs are an abysmal failure. See the irony?)

You have fallen in line with a group of scientists that holds one -- and only one -- view of reading development. They dismiss light-based health and learning issues as quackery because they believe we read through our "ears" (linking letters to the sounds of speech). Reid Lyon chuckled when he presented a photo of a boy with big ears to conclude his presentation to the International Reading Association last month (I was there). I continue to be amazed that the we, as Americans, have bought into the idea that, in a round about way, we read through the sounds of speech. We read through cognitive processing -- and this involves a whole lot more than the sounds of speech.

There are at least FIVE theories of dyslexia -- not one. The aforementioned scientists ignore a huge body of evidence that indicates clearly that they are wrong. They call individual word naming and sentence reading equivalent when there is scientific evidence (fMRI and PET) to demonstrate this is not the case. IF I, a parent, know this they MUST know this. So why aren't they talking about it?

These same scientists, led by our own federal government (G. Reid Lyon, to be exact), are causing the expenditure of billions of American tax dollars on reading theory that will very soon prove to be grossly flawed. There is a reason national reading scores are not increasing -- and it isn't because teachers aren't doing what Drs. Lyon, Shaywitz, Fletcher, and Foorman are telling them to do. Frankly, it is a grave concern to me that Drs. Lyon and Shaywitz cast the blame on teachers who are working hard to fall in line with their "science."

I don't care so much about the money that has been wasted as I care about the millions of children who have been devastated for years by what continues to be flawed reading theory. I suggest you get ahold of a couple of the books and magazines that lay out the flawed nature of the research, including but not limited to Gerald Coles "Misreading Reading: The Bad Science that Hurts Children" and, more recently, the March 2004 issue of Educational Leadership. The people you have fallen in line with are grossly biased. They want to be right rather than want to be objectively scientific. They are heavily invested in more ways than one in the phonics and the phonological processing hypothesis -- at the expense of real solutions for children.

I'm glad that you found someone who could cause your children's brains to use phonetic information in a manner that allows them to read with speed, accuracy, efficiency, and full comprehension. They can do this, yes?

My daughter's reading problems were easy to address compared to addressing her damaged self-esteem. I worked for five years to bring her back and convince her that she is bright and capable, at the same time that I was dealing with my younger son's emerging reading problems. I am pleased to say both kids have fully succeeded. Both now read with speed, accuracy, efficiency, and full comprehension. Intriguingly, in our daughter's case, homework habits were more difficult to overcome than her reading problems. After years of compensating with negative behaviors for her reading issues, she needed time to confront her habits and deal with them.

We won the battle. We won because we rejected the line of thinking you have embraced and so bitterly critize other parents for. The only person who said that colored overlays and tinted lenses were the first line of intervention was you. The people caustically claiming that the existence of light-based health and learning issues is quackery are the people who feel threatened by it because it challenges their own views of reading development.

I thank God for freedom of speech in this country. If we didn't have it, the National Institutes of Health would see to it that no one ever heard about colored overlays and tinted lenses and, frankly, THAT is the scariest thought of all. The NIH is drunk with power -- and, where reading is concerned, their "evidenced-based science" will soon be proven wrong. When that happens, we all need to step back and ask how much more their reductionist form of science has been wrong about -- and what has it cost us all?

Sincerely, Liz, I wish you and your family well. But there is much more to this than you realize, and you shouldn't harm families like mine because you've embraced a government agenda.

Rhonda Stone
Parent Advocate, Reading Issues
Executive Director, The Literacy Alliance
Research Assistant to Dolores "Dee" Tadlock, Ph.D., READ RIGHT Systems


I haven't read Stone's book, and I haven't really studied the latest dyslexia research. I have ordered Stone's book, which I will read next week while I am on vacation.

I haven't embraced any government agenda. No agent came to my house and ordered me to do this---I read the research and came to my own conclusions. As I have said before, I believe that about 5-10% of the population have difficulty connecting sounds to symbols, and thus difficulty in learning to read. A small subset of those people may also have perceptual difficulties of some sort.

Elizabeth Miller

Ms. Ditz,
You are a quack! No one said Irlen lenses are the cure for dyslexia. They are just a helpful tool. My parents and I were told I have dyslexia at age 7 in 1981. In the 80's I was labeled as LD and stupid. I taught myself a lot of tricks to get along. At age 13 I was introduced to the Orton-Gillingham method. It worked better than any other reading method. But I still lost letters and words from black and white text. I still got terrible headaches, even though my eyes were perfect. At age 16 my mother heard about the Irlen lenses. I went to get tested and found out my color was purple. My father's color is blue. I started with the overlays and eventually got glasses. It made a HUGE difference. It did not CURE my Dyslexia. NO ONE ever said it would. But it helped a lot. I was not having white blindness (loosing letters or words) and I did not get severe headaches every time a read. I write in purple and I prefer to print my class lists on purple paper. I am an art teacher with a master's degree. Orton-Gillingham helped me to focus my abilities and the Irlen lenses helped me keep the words on the page. Both are very helpful tools in dealing with Dyslexia. There is no cure for Dyslexia only tools to help. You should never discredit one idea if it does not work for you. It may help thousands of other people.

Elizabeth Miller

No one said Irlen lenses are the cure for dyslexia. They are just a helpful tool. My parents and I were told I have dyslexia at age 7 in 1981. In the 80's I was labeled as LD and stupid. I taught myself a lot of tricks to get along. At age 13 I was introduced to the Orton-Gillingham method. It worked better than any other reading method. But I still lost letters and words from black and white text. I still got terrible headaches, even though my eyes were perfect. At age 16 my mother heard about the Irlen lenses. I went to get tested and found out my color was purple. My father's color is blue. I started with the overlays and eventually got glasses. It made a HUGE difference. It did not CURE my Dyslexia. NO ONE ever said it would. But it helped a lot. I was not having white blindness (loosing letters or words) and I did not get severe headaches every time a read. I write in purple and I prefer to print my class lists on purple paper. I am an art teacher with a master's degree. Orton-Gillingham helped me to focus my abilities and the Irlen lenses helped me keep the words on the page. Both are very helpful tools in dealing with Dyslexia. There is no cure for Dyslexia only tools to help. You should never discredit one idea if it does not work for you. It may help thousands of other people.


Quackery is "the promotion of medical schemes or remedies known to be false, or which are unproven, for a profit," as a 1984 Congressional report put it.

I PAY to host this site. I derive no revenue from anything to do with children, teaching, learning, or reading.

How then am I a quack?


This site has been a very interesting find. My daughter has trouble reading-about a year behind-progressing steadily but not catching up. She was tested for and diagnosed with Irlen. I am a
Special Ed teacher as well as a parent. This sure is an easy fix-if it works.I am nervous as the Irlen institute seems to control and make money on all of this. But if it works(real or plocebo)who cares. What price do you but on your child's happiness(In Canada it is $784.00 for final screening and lenses)Fortunately we can afford it but what if this really is a problem for some kids and they can't afford it-Does the institute just let them suffer or do they make do with the overlays. I am not sure if this is quakery or not but if it makes my daughter think she can read and she does improve-I don't care about the science. I am heading for the testing and lense fitting next week.

Elaine Stinson

It seems to me that the Irlen Institute making money on this is a big thing in some peoples minds. I paid for a set of glasses (from the optomitrist) each for three of my children. Roughly the cost was about four hundred and fifty Canadian dollars. And guess what, I my as well of took that 450 dollars and buried it in the sand, because those glasses now sit unused. They never helped!! One of those children wears his purple Irlen glasses, non stop. The other two are going to be tested soon for Irlen. I know and they know that they have it. We worry so much about cost. Tell me about it, I know!!! But on the other hand if it works, and we have proven it does, at least we got our moneys worth. Another thing is that your first pair of Irlen glassed are maybe expensive, but after that initial cost, then the second pair and so on, are very reasonable.

I have five children and 4 of them have Irlen. I am not sure about the other one but will not rule it out. My husband also has it. He was also told by a eye doctor that he needed glasses. Not only glasses but bi-focals! And guess what they never helped the problem, just magnified it. He has been tested for Irlen and the day of the testing, when he found the right coulor that helps him, he didn't want to take those lenses off his eyes!!!! And he doesn't need his prescription in his Irlen glasses in order to see. The filters are just what he needs!!!! So there are another set of glasses worth about 400 dollars sitting here!!!! Talk about expense!!!!!

As for the the word "quackery". Well my dictionary says that Quackery means "The boastful pretensions or mean practice of a quack, praticularly in medicine; humbug; imposture." And Quack means " To cry like the common domestic duck; to make vain and loud pretensions; to talk noisily and ostentatiously; to play the quack. The cry of a duck; one who pretends to skill or knowledge which he does not possess; an empty pretender; a charlatan; especially, a pretender to medical skill. Pertaining to or characterized by quackery (quack medicines, quack doctor).

Quacks are eye doctors who prescribe glasses to people when they will not help the problem!!!!!
Quacks are people who pretend to know so much about Irlen Syndrome, yet have never looked deeply in to it!!!!!
Quacks cannot deliver the goods (an empty pretender).

Irlen is not quackery!!! Prove it for yourself!!!


Unless you are dyslexic - like me, or suffer from such syptoms, you cannot know what it is like to see a still page of text before your eyes for the first time. Do you all think it is a group hallucination? Scientists don't know everything, optometrists know how to diagnose eye dissease and correct focal abnormalities with a machine, and they know even less.


Thank you to everyone who took the time to post thoughtful responses here. In 2002, my daughter was failing math and English; was on a migraine prevention program and never read. She insisted on seeing an eye doctor when she couldn't read the eye chart for her learner's permit because the letters were moving. (This is the first time I heard that print moved). As it turned out everything moves--
to her. She was diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome, and fitted with lenses. They did not work for her, although they helped some. Her symptoms are so severe
that she would need different colored lenses depending on the different light in the room, which varies according to the weather and the time of day. The fact that the lenses and colored overlays did not work does not mean that she doesn't have the syndrome. She needed a different solution. We found it by exploring
accessible technology. She went to a center in Berkeley and for $100 they assessed what might work for her. (The school district did not believe in the syndrome so they initially refused to even test her for services--
even though it's the law). At the center they tried different software programs which would change background color, font color, text size and style ---again they were very specific colors, just like with Irlen. She initially used Write A Loud and now uses
WYNN. For the first time since fourth grade she was able to read a book for school. At first we had to scan all of her books into the program, but now she
receives her books in e-text which WYNN can read. It was only after we had a solution that the school was willing to test her for accommodations. Her testing showed that she did not have learning disabilities at
all, that the problem is entirely perceptually based.
If we hadn't gone to the school with the knowledge of what the problem was and the solution, they would have never provided any services. We did have to file a complaint with the state department of education to get access to large print texts and e-texts. The use of the program allows her to read; it does not alleviate the migraine symptoms (which seem to be light based--depending on the weather). Fog is awful for her. It is because of Helen Irlen and her website that we found the diagnosis for my daughter and eventually the solution. The lenses were worth the expense even if they didn't work. Because they helped some, and because my daughter was then able to see print correctly, for a while, we were able to speculate as to what she needed. The colored lenses calmed the print movement, but hers had so many layers that it was hard to see the print. The computer allows for a luminance that is impossible to achieve with paper. It is the color combination--she uses a dark green (with a little white in it) background with a royal blue print in an 18-20 point font and an informal (more rounded) font style triple spaced. To look at her computer screen makes me dizzy and nauseous. I can only read it if I squint. Showing this to the school psychologists and teachers was the evidence which convinced them that the syndrome was real. The controversy, particularly in the US, it seems is preventing students like my daughter from receiving help. She needed classroom accommodations and testing accommodations which were refused because the school psychologist did not believe in the Irlen sydrome. It is still uncertain whether she will graduate from high school with her class since she is now scrambling to make up classes which she dropped because she was failing. Although she is now an A student in English, she never completed 10th grade English or Geometry because she was failing. And although her testing shows that she is exceptionally bright --with writing skills at the graduate school level and mathematical skills well beyond high school, she can't attend a UC or a CSU because she can't take Geometry (there is no program which makes diagrams accessible). I hope her experience will help someone else who is struggling to find answers.


I read a whole lot of bashing of optometrists on this page by the host and by websurfers.
The argument that ophthalmology has more credibility than optometry based on the suffix in the name is ludicrous. In fact much more scientific study of vision related learning difficulties has been done by optometric researchers than by opthalmology. Optometrists are open to alternative therapies while ophthalmology is openly dismissive of any connection between visual perception and learning problems.
I am anxious to read the studies mentioned on this site. Anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of Irlen abounds but repeatable, scientific studies have been scarce, if not non-existant.
I can't list studies documenting the value of vision examinations and vision therapy but they are out there and they are scientifically valid in their methodology and in their conclusions.
I find it interesting that psychologists bash developmental optometry on this site when there is so much overlap between the treatments of educational psychology, occupational therapy, and optometry. Do not all these professions work to strengthen skills in laterality, spatial awareness, visual motor integration, ocular tracking, etc.?
Your pediatric ophthalmologist is an expert in eye diseases and strabismus surgery, but he/she has little, if any, training or interest in the functional and perceptual aspects of vision.
Just as you don't want to dismiss scotopic therapy out of hand, don't dismiss an entire profession because of hearsay. There are undoubtedly optometrists who are quacks, but the profession flourishes for a reason - we help thousands of people every day with their eye health and visual problems.

Greg McGrew, OD
Optometrist (and proud of it)


Thanks for fighting the good fight. I don't know what to say, except that as the parent of a dyslexic child, I agree with you with regard to unproven, unprovable and/or discredited theories about the cause and treatment of dyslexia. It's easy to get sucked into plausible sounding "solutions" based on bad science - especially when they get such a hard sell, and have such rabid supporters. Personally, I'm very skeptical about some of the "testimonials" volunteered above, by all these people whose children couldn't read until one day they put on the colored spectacles and Presto Change-O, miraculously they could read. Why even teach kids to read? Let's just get 'em all some magic glasses.


Couldn't read for any amount of time, couldn't stay focused on reading, couldn't understand or comprehend what they'd read-- That is what we mean by saying the could not read. They told me my son did not know his Phonics. So I took him through "Alpha-Phonics" by Samuel L Blumenfeld. He already knew his Phonics. But like I said before he could not continue to read because he'd feel sick to his stomach. The words would not stay still for him. So yes you have to teach children to read but hey how can he read if words are moving all over the place. You people who have so much to say have never experienced the miracle that Irlen is to these children or evan adults. And yes it is a miracle.

And by the way I am not bashing the eyedoctors. Each has a place. But eye doctors need to recognize that IRLEN IS A TRUE PROBLEM and we need to treat it. They need to accept that someone else may be able to help these people. Its kinda like medical doctors and ciropractors. Leave the feuding behind and help the people.

Remember the days when we had never heard of ADHD or FAS? Well now we know what they are and most people have accepted that there is a problem. Someday that is how Irlen will be accepted. Those of us who have experienced it and have accepted it are just a little ahead of the rest. Climb aboard!!!!


I am a practicing English orthoptist (specialist in Eye muscle movement disorders) and I too think that there are some charlatans out there.
In my experience there are people desparate for help who have been to private clinics and paid vast sums of money for inappropriate treatment, when our National Health Service can help.
People may need glasses or eye muscle exercises to alleviate eye strain and symptoms and there are some who do benefit (exactly how and why we don't know) from coloured lenses/overlays.
My advice to people out there is to seek advice from reputable sources - such as the National Dyslexic Association.


If you say there are people out there who HAVE benefited from coulored lenses/overlays, then why would you tell them to go to the NAtional Dyslexic Ass. first?
And yes, I have seen children who have went for muscle exercises from a orthopist. I have yet to see one cured!!!!! I have seen a few that get sick and tired off the cost and time spent with noooo results. I have seen those few get tested for Irlen and get help!!!!!!! One little boy hated school, Hated reading and hated going to the orthopist. He went for about three to four years. He has got testes for Irlen. He uses his overlays!! He said thet finally he can enjoy school as much as he deems possible. And you may ask why he never got teated sooner. Because his mother was a skeptic and didn't really beleive it would work. And because some orthopist told her it wouldn't. So in the meantime they wasted money and time when there was help out there. Broaden your horizons!!!! Wake up and help these people, don't hinder them.

Rhonda Stone

The saddest thing about all of this is that real people are telling you they found real solutions to a chronic health problem. Do you think anyone really WANTS to wear tinted lenses? Come on!! Children and adults only wear them if they work. One hundred years ago, someone suggested that the United States patent office should be closed because there wasn't anything left that science needed to know. Imagine all the technological advances that never would have come into being if that were true!!

Do you really think that is where we are with the human visual system? Give me a break. There is MUCH about electromagnetic energy (light) and the human visual system that we do not yet know and understand. Period. To belittle people for sharing that something very simple has a powerful effect on their physical well-being is mean and small-minded. Science should get busy and start studying and stop discounting. Rhonda Stone

Rhonda Stone

And Liz -- I'm glad to hear that you ordered the first book (The Light Barrier). Please consider getting ahold of the second: Read Right -- Coaching Your Child to Excellence in Reading by Dee Tadlock, Ph.D., WITH Rhonda Stone (I assisted and edited). It will be released by McGraw-Hill in July 2005. This book will rock the reading world. Dr. Tadlock has been eliminating reading problems in children, teens, and adults with severe reading problems (including some individuals diagnosed with severe dyslexia at prestigious clinics) for 20 years.

The book demonstrates what the brain actually does when it reads with excellence (the activities are fun and, if you are an excellent reader, you'll recognize them) and provides techniques to generate excellence-oriented reading behaviors in young children. And, oh, there is one chapter on the authentic barriers to reading development, which include undetected visual processing issues and the most common cause of reading problems: DECODING (not phonics; but how the brian uses phonics).

My goal is not to critize you. It is to point out that, on this important issue, you are wrong.

Best wishes,
Rhonda Stone


My son has been using Irlen lenses since he was in third grade. His first comment when he put on his first pair was, "Mom the trees quit dancing in cirles."
He had numerous symptoms that ranged from letters "grabbing up at his face" from the papers, to colored fireworks when he forced himself to try to read. He had headaches and eyestrain. Normally lit rooms gave him headaches. He closed his eyes and had to be led from a building to the car, when leaving during daylight hours. His Irlen lenses made it possible for him to see normally. If this is quackery -then it is a quackery that mu son is benefitting from.

I am not a scientist or doctor, just a mother that only achieved a high school education, but it is evident to me that a lot of you have not had a child that needed and benefitted from what Dr. Irlen has made available to people like my son. I am grateful to her for what she has done.

Elizabeth Freeman

In my case the Irlen lenses have change my life. Yes, I agree I will always be a dyslexic but the lenses have made a large difference in my life that I must say that if they would help little bit it is so worth it. Nothing will cure dyslexia but if something can help why stand in the way of it.

Andrew Batcher

I've never been diagnosed with a learning disability. I've been through alot of schooling, read alot of books, always performed well on reading comprehension tests, have a high vocabulary, and usually perform well in classes. But, I've always been a slow reader. This is particularly ironic because I'm a writer, and being a writer means reading alot.

Reading is the most stressful part of my work. When editing my writing, I often find myself needing to take breaks, feeling headaches, and loosing my concentration. In contrast, my wife, a regular at the library who devours a good 3 books every week, makes me amazed at what human beings are capable of. I've often talked with her about our reading differences. She tells me how reading never makes her tired and she can read entire sentences, even paragraphs, at a time- I, on the other hand, slowly treck my eyes over every single letter of every single word.

So, one day while having difficulty reading over my very long work, I thought maybe some scientificy type people knew why my wife and I were different. I searched the internet for "tiredness while reading" and came up with a number of cookey results. The least cookey of which were the studies about the Irlen lenses. I am not a scientist, (though I have training in research methodology) and while I don't know if Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrom is or is not accuretly named and described, I do have its symptoms. One article even made it so you could change the background color of the page. I changed it from white to dark gray, and immediately felt like a reading God. It actually didn't help all that much, it could have simply been my wishful, placebo creating, thoughts -but it was nonetheless a relieving sight.

Now I agree with you, the Irlen lense studies often claim more than they should, and many are shockingly poorly designed. I also think anyone claiming Irlen lenses are a well-established "cure" for autism and dyslexia are making a dishonorable claim. But most studies dont say they can cure learning disabilities, they say they can help, and theres a huge difference between helping and curing.

The biggest problem with Irlen lense studies is they rarely control for the placebo effect. But the one study I've found which does adequetly control, and is also double blind, (and it's referred to in one of the articles you refer to) shows that there is a placebo affect opperating, but the Irlen lenses also help treat SSS symptoms. A 6 year study even showed that the positive affects of the Irlen lenses dont go away over time, as one may expect placebos to do. So here's the thing. I appreciate your article for pointing out our foolish tendency to look for miracle cures, and how this tendence makes us, at times, easily manipulated. But it seems to me the studies actually do support that the Irlen lenses have SOME affect, it's just not clear how much, or if Helen Irlen really got it right when she coined the term Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrom. And when you call it quackery, claiming SSS is utter nonsense and the lenses are completely useless, you're really doing more harm than good.


I'm using my initials B.R., and I am a 19 year old grade 12 student who had recently been diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome. Now, I will be the first to say that I don't keep up with the latest issues into this syndrome. But I can tell you from my personal experience.
I agree Irlen Syndrome does not cure Dyslexia, but there are many people who suffer with Irlen Syndrome but had been diagnosed with Dyslexia. Perhaps when people say 'Irlen Lenses can cure Dyslexia' they are referring to the people who actually have Irlen Syndrome but have been diagnosed wrong. After all, Irlen is a fairly new case study.
Now, as a person WITH SSS, I do not have the lenses, seeing that I live in Canada and the nearest place that make these lenses are in the US, I am currently using my colored overlays and colored paper. Ever since I started using them I don't come home with headaches, I take less sick days from school, reading and writing are much easier now.
Recently I had Diploma exams, and sent in my report to the Government. My exams were all in the color I needed, and they were the easiest exams I taken all year.
Don't just take my word for it, the Australian Government recently passed laws to have every student in their education system scanned for SSS. The US army now has all soldiers scanned for SSS. Now if these organizations are scanning for SSS, why isn't everyone?
Ponder that for a while.


"The US army now has all soldiers scanned for SSS."

Thank you B.R. for pointing this out.

I wear Irlen lenses. I can not begin to explain how diferent the world looked the first time I put them on. For the first time in my life I actually had depth perception. I could see that trees had individual leaves and did not look like abstract paintings.

I would also like to say that there are doctors out there working on "proving" SSS using qEEG. I recently had a qEEG and the degree of my response and the time it took me to respond was 6.74 SD above the norm for response to visual evoked response (strobe lights.) i also took longer to return to baseline than the norm (as compared to a database of 15,000 qEEGs)

I hope that they publish this study soon. I do not think that SSS is the same as dyslexia and perhaps that is part of the controversy. However, I have a severe impairment in my visual processing. As shown on an EEG. The neurologist running the study informed me that my response was consistent with the responses of those who had either previously been diagnosed with SSS or those who later responded well to irlen lenses.

be a sceptic. but don't close your mind to options.


Hello Everyone

This site has been an Interesting read.

I am a 31 University Student who has just been diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome.

I did reasonably well at school however i did get a lot of headaches when reading and bright sunlight through classroom windows used to bother me.

I have not been diagnosed with dyslexia, but have seen others with dyslexia benefit from these lenses and overlay.

I have a reasonable level of reading however i can not read for long periods of time and the words move on the page.

Since starting at University I have had really bad problems with reading to the the research i need to write my assignments.

The local education authority sent me for an Irlen Screening Test. They performed a normal sight test first before doing the irlen's to check that the prescription i was using was ok. It turned out it was.

When the screener placed my final chosen colour lenses on my face, i cried because i could not believe how much it changed not only my reading but my eyesight in general.
Print on the page was crystal clear and i could see depth for the first time.

I only wish i knew about this condition sooner it would have prevented so many years of problems. I am now doing a lot better at Uni and getting better marks.

After being diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome and seeing the difference the glasses have made to my life, It is definitely not quackery.

Catherine McCallum

I think sometimes people get lost in complexities when the issue is really quite simple.

Does light hurt/bother some people's eyes when they try to read or learn to read? I think anyone who has tried to read after having a flash photo taken, or on a sunny beach without sunglasses would answer yes to this question.

Do some people experience discomfort when trying to read under certain lighting conditions? Yes.
Do some people have reading problems? Yes.
Do some people have both problems? Yes.

It is not that "Scotopic Sensitivity" is a cause of a reading problem, it is a barrier to learning to read. Perhaps this is why Ms. Stone's book is so aptly titled.

It is my hope that we can address the real needs of people when dealing with this issue.

Catherine McCallum

Donna Leonard

I am a parent of 2 children both who have Irlen syndrome.
The oldest went through the whole school thing of She's not trying or she is lazy or she is not listening and the list goes on.
She has Been recently fitted with her Irlen tints and all i can say is if this is wrong then we will never be right because for the first time in my daughter's 14 year life she is happy not barfing at the speed of sound after a day in school or headaches from hell she even when she was younger had nosebleeds don't actually know if this is part of her Irlen's but wouldn't doubt it.
I am so sorry i didn't push harder for help but until a year ago i didn't know where to turn until Beverly Butt was introduced to us and she has made such a difference in all of our lives this woman is a dedicated proffesional lady in what she does she is the best(in my opinion).
My youngest daughter is going in August to see Beverly she too has tested for Irlen syndrome on the severe.
Yes it is inherited and yes I have it too as a mom of 40 plus years of age it is finally something to be able to see properly.
Yes it is expensive but to spend 150.00 then it was 705.00 after that incuding taxes.(what i paid for each of us ) to find out then to go to the next level is worth all the money in the world my children are my world and the future they are definately benifitting from the Irlen method so i beg all you parents that may read this read and consider with an open heart and mind after all all you can do is benifit for your children.

Donna leonard

I sympathize with so many of you parents who have seen the children suffer and cry because they are made to feel they are stupid or are made to feel dumb by thier classmates/teachers my daughter too was made to feel dumb.

My daughter was a shy quiet withdrawn child because of the daily distortions she was living with.

She had headaches that wouldn't quit no matter what we tried and she would always be nauseated some times barfing at the speed of sound sometimes and tired all the time.
Now this girl has gone from being withdrawn to an out spoken energetic and lively young lady who is currently trying to educate her friends about why she wears dark lenses( burgandy).

She also can finally sit and do counted cross stitch which she always wanted to do but never could quite manage because of the distortions.

Music has become a great part of her daily life so much that she is currently trying to make up a song in dance/rap form about her Irlen syndrome, it should be great when she is done with it.

She had some adjustments to wearing her glasses but now she says she doesn't give a hoot about any one who may say what ever because she can see for the first time in her whole life.

For those who have not been privelleged to be a part of an Irlen assesment for tints you sure are humbled, I know i was because that day Dec.27 2005 will for ever be etched in my mind, my daughter could read and her eyes were no longer sore she wanted to keep the assesment tints and HOT GLUE them together she did not want to put them down she was then asked to get up and look out the window "hey Mom the snow isn't blue and it doesn't sparkle"

When she finally got her Irlen tints and tried to put them on the first time her hands where shaking so bad and she was crying she was so happy, (this comes from a child who will never let any one see her cry it isn't her.)

I see so many improvements each and every day in her self esteem and her out look she is more self confident and more self assured, not the quiet un happy young girl she was a year ago.

This is what wearing Irlen Filters have done for her and yes i too have Irlen syndrome, I no longer have to stay hidden inside during the day because i can't stand the glare of the sun.

I also can go out at nights and drive where ever i want to go, you see before wasn't so easy i was a virtual prisoner of my Irlen syndrome.

Not now the only reason i am forced to stay inside and at home is it is raining and my truck is out of gas.

The rest of my family also has Irlen syndrome and will be travelling to Regina Sask. to get thier assesments for thier own tints.

All i say is keep an open heart and mind
don't take no for an answer, always look for another way who knows what you may find.
For us it works that is what is important to me.

Irlen syndrome is a gift.


Why have the addition of the latest comments not been posted? I have enjoyed reading the information and know that others have added comments.

As a certified Irlen screener and mother of 3 children with Irlen Syndrome, you do not have to convince me that this is real. It is not quackery when children no longer complain of headaches, when children are able to do homework independently, when adult children say they can read for a long time without getting frustrated,....

It is not the only answer, but one which should be ruled out for anyone with reading, visual perception, light based problems. Once a child can look at a printed page with comfort, then the other interventions have a better chance of being effective.

I screened one young man who was convinced he had dyslexia. Once his choice of Irlen overlays were placed on apage of print, he was astounded that he could read the page. The words no longer jammed together making reading impossible. He read fluently for the first time in his 16 years. Had his father not had an open mind to rule out the possibility of Irlen Syndrome, he would still be trying to sort out the words on a page of print.

I am glad I had an open mind when this was introduced to me. Ask my are they.


You know for a fact that Irlen syndrome is genetic and also if one in the family has it then you look around because more of the family might have it too.

I am a parent of 2 who both have Irlen syndrome. I have Irlen syndrome as well and from what i understand my children's father most likely has Irlen syndrome as well.

i am currently trying to convince him he needs to have the screening done.

he has always been told he has dyslexia but everything that he experiences tells me that he has Irlen syndrome not dyslexia well he could have that too but i am almost positive he only has Irlen.

What has happened to him is that he has listened to the majority and by that he thinks he is stupid and that he isn't good enough to be anything special to anyone but all he needs is this screening.

i have seen alot of positive stuff come from my children being tested and confirmed.

don't let another father go this way this man has had a hard life being told he is stupid or worse.

he doesn't really believe he would benefit because there are people who tell him he is lazy or he has dyslexia or what the heck ever they want to say.

This the harm some people do if they are not willing to have a open mind and heart about new stuff who knows but why squash someone's chances to be well.

i know i never would but it takes one person to mess up the whole thing.

Be open new things after all it is the same as when insulin was invented if the powers that be would have said this was crap what would have happened and my sister would never have been alive as long as she was.

she was diabetic, with out the insulin she needed to live way back then she would have died come on people no one has the right to tell some one else what is right for them if it works then it works same as braces to help some one walk who wants to wear them every day no one would willingly if they didn't work oh sure
everyone should run out and get one right Yeah right just let us who have Irlen syndrome be don't try to change us we know what works.

I wonder if you actually know what is wrong with yourself who knows maybe you have Irlen syndrome you never know don't point the finger at any one until you know for sure.

why don't you ask some one who has Irlen syndrome what it is like, i bet you will hear it is the difference from night to day,going from being a prisoner of the house to being gone all the time and yes why aren't there all the posts been put up on this website????
this is only my opinions after all.

Makes one wonder.



John Webster Holt

I read the comments on dyslexia and I had a good laugh about the dancing trees as expressed by a boy. The trees stopped moving and he could read with the coloured lenses.Maybe he saw Tolkiens movie;I have often wondered how my children view television because they have dyslexia which is overcome by the Irlen lenses,they do not see the world with rose coloured glasses.

Erika Dyquisto

Good discussion here.

It seems like a number of issues have been conflated, such as the idea of 1) dyslexia being a "disease," cure being a term associated with disease not necessarily with variations in brain function. 2) The latest fad with a "strategy to try". We all know that fads are endemic to education, they come and go. Just because someone who has come up with a system or strategy and has named and made money off of it from some people for whom the fad doesn't work doesn't mean that the strategy itself is not a useful one for others. Today I had a student in my summer school English class who was just at her wits end with frustration not being able to proofread her paper. She is a college senior, mind you, who had been diagnosed in high school under the catch all of "learning disabilities" but who couldn't afford to be retested at college so she could get assistance for testing and the like. So she ended up in my class because of course she wasn't going to pass the exit writing exam. We tried the various standard proofreading strategies, none of which were working. It's not like she wasn't trying. So, we tried an experiment. I had read in my training briefly about various strategies one might try for dyslexic students. We found some dark blue paper and copied her essay onto it. Lo and behold she was able to find the proofreading errors she didn't even see before. It's a crying shame that she had to get all the way to her class level (good for her that she did it!) to discover this strategy. At least it will help her out there in the working world.

Obviously this is not a scientifically valid study, but now my curiousity is piqued. So I plan to do some additional unscientific studies this fall before deciding whether to go onto for my Ph.D. to study this further. No one should have to suffer that long without having some simple strategies to at least try.

P.S. How can anybody expect anybody with dyslexia or visual problems to go through with this word verification process? I can't see the letters!!!

Sharon Stiggear

We have a strong family history of dyslexia. The youngest of my 4 children struggled with reading and writing which led me to beleive he too has dyslexia. In Bexley, Kent (England) the education authority do not test until the child is 8yrs. I was not willing to leave him to struggle which would ultimately affect his self esteem. We have spent money on extra help with a wonderful speech and language therapist in Sevenoaks who has managed to keep Ben from falling too far behind his peers. In April 06 he had an assessment at my request at school which put his reading age at aboput 9 months behind. Not that far behind some might say and indeed I am very proud of him because I know how hard he has had to work to achieve that result. At about the same time I came across this site and it convinced me with everything else that I have read that it was worth trying Irlen glasses. The previuos October we realised by chance that the letters on the page jiggled about for Ben and paid for a screening and a yellow overlay which did help. We sat in the office of the Irlen Centre near Maidstone and I could have cried as I discovered that my 7 and a half year old son's world was so visually distorted, that among other things the stairs looked like a slope and that after 2 hours of questions and testing he found the correct colour combination for Ben, blue and purple. I was amazed as Ben then read a piece of text without any picture clues beyond what I would have expected with good flow and an easy confidence. Suddenly all the phonic skills he had learnt over the last few years he was able to put into practice. He had to wait a month for his new lenses and unfortunately had to do his SATs. We had many tears that month but finally they arrived. The change was immediated. Ben read his school book (one of the early Kipper stories with about 5 lines of writing on each page) which even with the overlay he would struggle and take 15 to 20 mins to read 10 pages. He happily sat and read the whole book to me with very little error. He was able to put in wonderful expression. Not once did he ask "how much more?" in fact we rang his Dad at work his Nan and 2 of his aunties and read to them too. His reading has gone from strength to strength in only two months, I would now estimate his reading ability as 7+ and he is happily doing reading with me in the summer holidays. He is still struggling with his writing but this is improving too. He still has dyslexic traits and time will tell how sever these are but now he no longer has to cope with the visual distortions on top of this. I would say to any parent or adult who thinks they or their child is suffering from Irlen, do not hesitate. Make the appointment TODAY! It cost £360 but has changed our lives. I now have a happy and confident child who happily goest to school and sits with me to read. Personally I can't put a price on that. There is also an article posted in the Epoch Times on the internet by a mother whose child had DAMP syndrome and Aspergers. When he got his Irlen glasses he cried as for the first time in 10 years he saw his mothers face clearly. Nobody in the western world woud dare deny a child corrective presription lenses or a hearing aid. For me Irlen lenses are as fundamental to childs development if they have this syndrome. I thank God for Messrs Meares and Irlen that they discovered this and for Helen Irlen for developing the lenses. Everyone involved in the education system needs to be aware of Irlen Syndrome and we need to campaign for a screening programme in every school, so that children are not unnecessaryily blighted by failing to read and write.

Patrick Downey

I Purchased 2 pair of Irlem lenses about 10 yrs ago. they have over the years gotten some scratches on them and I was wondering if I could use a common acrlic scratch filler thats on the market to fill these scrathes or would it harm the tint. Thank You
If I would need new lenses is there anyone in the Ocala area in Florida that does Irlen Lenses?


Liz said:"I object STRENUOUSLY to is the Irlen organization making money from children's suffering."

The 'regular' medical proffession makes money off of suffering all the time... Ritalin, etc, come to mind. They make money off of fat people, and a whole other hosts of general malaise.

But you know.. IF it helps?? Without Drugs that make me feel like I'm trapped in Flowers for Algernon? If a silly sheet of colored plastic can help me read a book after 18 years of not being able to? Even if its a placibic effect, Bring it on. I want to read.


For those of you out there who believe the 'phenomenon' of Meares Irlen Syndrome to be a crack of nonsense, you obviously have no idea what the hell you are on about! I suffer from Meares Irlen Syndrome and Binocular Vision and I own my very own set of filters, screen filters for my computer and coloured glasses and I believe without them I would not be on the road to completing my degree this year in Product Design at the Glasgow School of Art. Meares Irlen Syndrome is a very REAL problem that affects many people all over the world and without the research and development that is going into understanding the condition, I am quite sure there would be millions of people suffering and feeling isolated as their symptoms are unusual and are often regarded as poppy-cock and irrational. I may be only 22 years of age but please believe me that just because I am young it does not make me naive and vunerable to fad fixes and excuses for my reading and vision capabilities!

Moniece Gibson

I really think that's a GREAT idea. It would really help kids a lot.

Moniece Gibson

I really think that's a GREAT idea. It would really help kids a lot.

Rhonda Roberts

I just wanted to say that my 10 year daughter has suffered since she was 4 years old. We have had every test done that we thought possible. I just learned of Irlen in the past two weeks and took my daughter to have her tested. We have the glasses coming in the mail. For six years we could not figure out why my daughter hated reading, hated school, and just didn't want to do nothing with reading or writing. I wish that we would have known about Irlen sooner because she is so down on herself that she hates life. It's all because we held her back in school she has been put through every test that is possible and no answers could be given. All she would say is that she was dumb. Do you know how that makes us feel. I have cried and cried and have prayed to God everyday to help her. My prayer has been answered. So, if coloured lenses is what is needed then why not? My child is the most important thing to us and her happiness. I couldn't believe how her eyes and little face looked when she could actually see. So I thank God for these coloured lenses and I am glad that Helen came up with this. May God Bless all of you that has decisions to make about the coloured lenses, because I think they are the answer to some kids problems.


My daughter is eight. We had not heard of sss or Irlen until one month ago. Since, we have had her screened and had the diagnostics done. She received her glasses yesterday and for the first time in her life her words didn't swirl like a toilet, turn into worms and walk off the page and dissappear. Also she told me how pretty the trees were now that they were bright green. Some can call this quackery, b.s. whatever you wan't to, my daughter, her mother and I call it a blessing from God. I pray that more schools and states start testing for sss so less parents and children have to deal with this terrible problem.

Brittney Scott

I am a 31 year old adult. I spent $500.00 + for my Irlen lenses with the promises of a better life and a cure for all my broken dreams(COLLEGE). Let me tell you _ The irlen lenses barely made a difference. The words still will not stand still and they keep swirling, I tried all the colors and was promised by the Irlen tech. that this was my cure. It is a joke!!! When I contacted Irlen they said I should pay my $500.00 again and pick a new color.. THANKS ALOT!!!! These are empty promises - they may give you more confifence to work harder but they do not cure dyslexia or the words moving. Please do not wast your money. Give you loved one love and support. SAY NO TO IRLEN LENSES!!!!!!!!

Dr Nadia Northway

I am a clinician and researcher who has investigated visual problems as part of reading difficulty for over a decade. I prescribe coloured lenses and carry out other visual treatments for people with reading difficulties. Visual difficulties usually co-exist with phonological difficulties.Visual difficulties on their own are rarely the reason why someone struggles to learn to read. However may I stress that there are three reasons why someone might see words moving and blurring

1. A binocular vision problem- this has been known for several decades. Simple exercises can help this difficulty or in some cases prescription glasses

2. Visual stress/ Meares-Irlen syndrome/ SSS,- if this is the cuase then colour will help

Please note however that 1 and 2 often co-exist togther which renders the Irlen methosd less efficient in those with a dual diagnsosis since Irlen practitioners do not assess binocular vision but only address the visual stress element.UK eye care practitioners know to address both and rarely prescribe colour until they are happy that binocular vision does not underly the difficulty.

3. A magnocellular deficit- this affects reading in that a subtle difficulty with the timing of visual information arriving in the brain is slightly abnormal and letters may be seen to move or transpose.

In my experience you need to make very detailed assessments covering both the motor and perceptual aspects of vision if you want to aid reading.

In addition phonological support may also be beneficial.

Differential diagnosis is key to making maximum improvement. At the moment there are a limited number of people who have the knowledge to do this but this is growing all over the world.

Ian Jordan

I agree with Dr Northway. Whilst it is esential that normal medical, optometric and orthoptic assessments are undertaken, they are limited by their methodolgy.
They do not look at the effect of visual stimulus, and they are, by this fact often an inadequate response to symptoms.
Optometric, physiological and cognitive changes are well documented as a response to visual stimulus and can be measured by any competent professional.
To determine optimum coloured lenses it is essential that the clinician uses accurate, reproducable and calibrated instrumentation. Metamerism must be taken into account and the inadequacies of methods must be understood (eg colour spike migration). But it must also be understood that Irlen was a pioneer, and therefore some of her initial work would not now be optimal. Early anecdotal evidence is still valid, not to the same extent as properly conducted trials, but to dismiss it shows an inability to understand that observation is an important early step.
The question is - whether expensive trials should prevent a low risk intervention, with immediate reported improvements from the child. In our specialist clinic we would be unprofessional to wait perhaps 20 years for trials when we can see immediate improvements.
I believe that this is the mark of a professional, they should have the ability to be able to take into account all evidence, not just that of "properly conducted" trials, and make a valid judgement. Without his science is stagnant.

Rhonda Stone

Dear Brittney,

Regarding the failure of your tinted lenses: During testing, when your diagnostician was identifying the appropriate color, did you achieve perceptual stability? Did the words stop moving on the page? If visual stability was not achieved, the Irlen technician should not have ordered tinted lenses for you. However, if you did achieve stability during testing, then what has probably happened is that the LAB incorrectly tinted your lenses. This happened to our family TWICE. Once to me personally and once to our daughter.

It can take two hours to identify the proper tint for an individual. If the LAB does not tint lenses properly, then it has wasted your time, your money, and your dreams.

If your tints were ineffective, you needed to return to your diagnostician and report the problem. The diagnostician needed to return the tints to the Irlen LAB. The Irlen LAB needed to re-tint your lenses or give you a refund.

I'm sorry that this has happened to you. It appears to be a continuing problem with the LAB.

scott buist

i read over this actical but not all the comments

i am serverly dyslexic and have found that these colour overlys and tinted glasses do help. it has also been proven that it is nota plocibo effect. As when i was t ested for dyslexica and tinted glasses i was asked to take part in a study of this at glasgow caldoinal universtiy in scotland. It was found t hat people with dyslexica have a very mild tremmor i nthere eyes that is not visable to look at but can be detected with cameras. The colour tint helps the person to read to combbat this mild tremor.

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