Meares–Irlen Syndrome

Meares–Irlen Syndrome is the description given to dyslexics whose reading can be improved by use of coloured lens or overlays. Its also known as Scotopic sensitivity syndrome. When it was first suggested that colour may make a difference to reading it met with a skeptical response in part because Helen Irlen set up the Irlen Institure to promote and sell coloured glasses.
However some research has been done to prove or disprove the existence Meares-Irlen Syndrome. Research [PDF] at the University of Essex, UK, found “that between one-fifth and one-third of unselected school-children show a significant (> 5%) improvement in their rate of reading with their chosen overlay“. Further research [PDF] on 33 children and adults with learning difficulties found “that, in some people, Intuitive Overlays significantly improve the rate of reading. Our data further demonstrate that this improvement in performance cannot be attributed to conventional optometric anomalies nor to placebo effects. We conclude that, inappropriately selected patients, individually prescribed coloured filters can have a beneficial effect not only on symptoms (Wilkins et al., 1994) but also on immediate reading performance“.
Work done at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia looked at the long-term effects of coloured filters [Abstract]. Their results showed “The treatment groups increased at a significantly greater rate than the control group in reading accuracy and reading comprehension“.
Previous coverage on Coloured Lenses


  • I’m and educator and I’ve tested some children for Irlen syndrome and found interesting and positive results using coloured overlays. You can see my results here

  • Sally Bourliakas says:

    My daughter at nearly five complained of words dancing around on the page. (she had said for a year or so she would never be able to read as her eyes didn’t work properly and rubbed them whenever she tried to read)We tried coloured overlays that day from school. She jumped up and down on the bed shouting “I can read!, I can read! I can read!” she went from books with six words per page which were repetitive except one word to pages with four different sentences on each page that night and went up four reading groups in a term. It took only a month to get from being assessed at Specsavers in Bicester to getting her purple glasses (yellow was the best overlay but when given a wider choice she chose purple) they cost £40 with £20 for the assessement, cheaper for her as she was a child but not free. Nearly a year on she reads much better, balances better can walk in a straight line but still has many problems with organisation following out instructions and writing what she wants. Her writing is rounded now not spikey but still includes reversals and mirror writing and muddles. We are trying Dore excersises as of thie month to help her visual tracking. I recomend overlays to anyone who has a child who saya the words move on the page.

What are your personal experiences with ADD / ADHD, autism or dyslexia?