International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Spotlight on Irlen Syndrome

International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Spotlight on Irlen Syndrome

Mon 03 Dec 2018

Disability can be unfamiliar to many, however, 13.9m people in the UK have disabilities. Over the next week, we will be sharing advice on how to become Disability Confident to end the awkwardness around disability.
The following article has been written by Lucy Smith who has opened up about Irlen Syndrome:
I discovered I had Irlen Syndrome as the age of 34! I never realised that what I was seeing on the page when reading was not ‘normal’ and I just accounted for my depth perception and glare issues as part of how things are….what a difference a year makes.
After getting diagnosed it really has been life changing in so many ways, I read for pleasure now without wanting to sleep after 2 pages, I don’t bump into or drop things so often, headaches and dizziness reduced significantly and I can deal with glare more effectively.This is me with my Irlen filters on my lenses:

Lucy Smith Mazars
When I read I see the page with the following distortions: Blurry, Halo and Washout.

More Information & How you can get tested

What is Irlen Syndrome?

Irlen Syndrome (also referred to at times as Meares-Irlen Syndrome, Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, and Visual Stress) is a perceptual processing disorder. It is not an optical problem. It is a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information. Irlen Syndrome can affect many different areas, including:
  • Academic and work performance
  • Behavior
  • Attention
  • Ability to sit still
  • Concentration

Around 50% of children and adults with reading, learning, or attention problems have Irlen Syndrome. (, n.d.)

About Irlen Syndrome

Adults or children suffering from Irlen Syndrome are likely to experience some, but not all, of the following symptoms and characteristics:

  • Slow reading rate
  • Poor comprehension
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Unable to retain and remember information
  • Not able to read for any length of time
  • Difficulty judging distances

Some of the characteristics of Irlen syndrome are generally being sensitive to light which makes reading in a bright light very difficult and the glare from the page can cause significant problems.  In some cases depth of perception is also affected which can result in difficulty judging distances, being ‘clumsy’ e.g. dropping or knocking things over.  It can cause difficulty getting on and off escalators and moving walkways.

Whilst observing a child or adult with Irlens you may notice one or more of the following:

  • Moving closer to the page
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Closes or covers one eye
  • Excessive blinking
  • Shades the page with hand or body
  • Falls asleep when reading
  • Narrows eyes or peers at the text
Some of the types of reading and writing difficulty experienced may be:
  • Skipping words or lines
  • Words appear to move and jump around the page or become blurred
  • Repeating or re-reading lines
  • Losing place
  • Reading is slow and hesitant
  • Missing out small words
  • Unable to remember or understand what they have read
  • Inability to write on a line
  • Writing goes up or down hill
  • Difficulty copying from the books or the board
  • Difficulty following musical notation
    (, n.d.)

​Correcting Irlen Syndrome can result in the following improvements:

  • ​Better comprehension
  • ​Read faster and longer
  • Improved accuracy
  • Reduced strain and fatigue
  • Reduced headaches and migraines
  • Improved flow and fluency
  • Improved motivation
  • Improved academic performance
  • Better attention and comprehension
  • Better self-esteem
    (, n.d.)

If this sounds like you

Go to the website and take their self-tests

If your results indicate you may have Irlen Syndrome a list of registered practitioners can be found on their website​
Speak to HR if you feel this is something that may be affecting you, they may be able to help towards the cost of testing and lenses if you’re diagnosed.