What current research is there for Irlen Syndrome?

"The Irlen Method and the efficacy of colored overlays and colored filters has been the subject of over 200 research studies in education, psychology, and medicine. This research has established a hereditary component of the disorder[1-2], a number of biochemical markers for problems associated with Irlen Syndrome[3], and differences between both the anatomy and functioning of brains of individuals with Irlen Syndrome[4-7]. The research has repeatedly documented improvements in a variety of reading skills, reduction in physical symptoms, and improved functioning and success in both academia and the workplace[8-13]. Research on Irlen Syndrome has also documented co-morbidity with a variety of other disorders, including chronic fatigue syndrome[14], ADHD[15], and autism[16]. A review of 62 studies published in peer-reviewed journals found 56 studies with positive findings, 45 with positive results for particular reading skills, and 11 showing improvements in accommodation facility, eye movements while reading, and reduced headaches/migraine."
(Quotation from Irlen Syndrome Foundation at https://www.irlensyndrome.org/research/)

The most current research on Irlen Syndrome and the use of colour utilizes advanced brain mapping technology to show actual changes and normalization of brain functioning that result from the use of Irlen Spectral Filters, but there is a long history of research over the last 30 years.

Helen Irlen's original research

Helen Irlen was an educational psychologist in the USA who had a research grant in 1980 to investigate reading difficulties.

She had an adult group who had 'tried everything' without success, and basically, the research idea was to try every known (and some barely known) method of dealing with reading difficulties to see what made the most difference.

One of the methods she tried, from a paper written much earlier, was the use of coloured overlays over the print.
Suddenly those being tested began to notice a difference!
She asked the people what they were seeing and got some of the same kinds of answers that Reinhold Berlin and others had been mystified by back in the 1860's, and which they had called 'dyslexia'.

Helen investigated this further, finished her research and developed the idea into the 'Irlen' method, which is used worldwide today.

What she found was that filtering different colours using overlays or lenses seems to 'correct' problems that must be happening in the processing of the signals from the visual system for people with what was called "Irlen Syndrome" or "Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome" (IS/SSS), and they are able to read better.

For more information about Irlen Syndrome visit the Irlen International website at www.irlen.com

Latest Brain Research

SPECT scans (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) show how the brain is overloaded in people with Irlen Syndrome, and that it 'calms down' when individually-prescribed precision-tinted Irlen Spectral Filters are worn.

Brain scan of person with IS/SSS Same person with Irlen filters

People with uncorrected IS/SSS had lots of unusual extra activity in their brain, showing that their brains were working 'overtime' to deal with the mixed up signals - extra activity that affected lots of different areas of the brain such as hyperactivity centres and general 'thinking' areas.
This unusual extra activity seemed to settle down when the right coloured filters were used.

All this latest brain research tells us is that IS/SSS is not just a 'seeing' problem - it is more a 'processing' problem, and it can affect many different aspects of thinking and processing ... so much so, that it is vitally important to check this first before looking at all the other aspects and factors that might be causing 'dyslexia' and other reading/learning difficulties.

On a 'local' level, we also have analysis of our own clinic data over time that shows how well students have improved in reading with their Irlen Filters: Do Irlen Filters Work?

So ... if you ever hear that there is "no evidence" or that Irlen Syndrome "doesn't exist" please direct them to a bibliography of research papers at: https://irlen.com/bibliography-of-research/