Irlen Syndrome is an issue with the brain’s ability to process what the eyes are seeing
What is Irlens?
Referred to as a ‘perceptual processing disorder’ it is not an optical problem nor is it the same as dyslexia as is commonly thought.
Put simply, Irlens is when the brain processes visual information slower than the eyes are seeing it. A good example is: If the brain was a radio, there would be considerable static interfering with the reception of the station you were trying to listen too.
The eyes transmit up to 80 percent of the information an individual needs to function in any given environment - so any problems in the interpretation of such information can cause lifelong difficulties if Irlens is not identified as the cause.
Moving or distorting words while reading can be a common symptom of Irlen Syndrome
So, how do I know if my child needs to be screened?
Irlens can run in families and is pinpointed via screening by a registered Irlens assessor. The great news is - at OCULA, being a registered Irlens assessor is only one of the many tools in our toolkit, so to speak.
When seeing your child for a possible Irlens diagnosis they will also undergo a full comprehensive visual assessment by our behavioural optometrist who will not only test their vision but check how healthy their eyes are and how they make sense of what they see. So, whether your child actually does have Irlens or something different - we have the experience and knowledge to help.
Irlens can be hard to pick-up, is often misdiagnosed and can run alongside other visual and behavioural issues. Symptoms range from poor handwriting and slow reading to obvious depth perception issues (often falling, banging into things) light sensitivity, fatigue and inability to concentrate.
We also recognise that every child needs a different approach, so we work with a close network of educational psychologists, doctors, health care professionals, speech language therapists and occupational therapists to build a management plan tailor-made for your child's specific situation.
What does a screening look like?
What happens after a screening?
If there is suspicion of Irlen Syndrome, you will be referred for an Irlen Diagnostic assessment. A diagnostic assessment only be conducted by a registered Irlen Diagnostician who is qualified to prescribe treatment for Irlen Syndrome.
What is an Irlen diagnostic assessment?
This assessment involves finding the unique tint/lens colour that works to filter out the wavelengths of light that are causing the various effects on the visual processing system.
Each person will require a different unique colour tint due to the way in which Irlen affects each individual. The filtering of the certain wavelengths of light through the use of colour are proven to help improve and combat the various physical symptoms that Irlens causes.
Can I / my child grow out of Irlen Syndrome? No. While your symptoms can change over time, and your colour preference for coloured filters or tints, it is generally accepted that those who suffer Irlen Syndrome do not grow out of the condition.
What causes Irlen Syndrome? Irlen Syndrome adversely affects the visual pathway in the brain - this pathway carries messages from the eyes to brain about what the eyes are seeing.
How common is Irlen syndrome? True Irlen syndrome affects 14 percent of the population and is more common than asthma and heart disease. However, because the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome are similar to other visual conditions, it is important to ensure you are accurately diagnosed. Only an optometrist who can assess visual conditions, who is also a registered Irlen Diagnostician, has the ability to detect both vision conditions and Irlen Syndrome.
How do I know if I / my child needs to be tested for Irlen Syndrome? Irlens can be difficult to detect and is often misdiagnosed as it can run alongside other visual and behavioural issues. If your child is having learning difficulties, it is important to undergo an Irlens screening, as well as a comprehensive eye examination, to accurately determine the root cause.
How do I book an Irlen Assessment? The first step is to book an Irlen Screening Assessment online here. Depending on the results of this assessment, you may be referred to our paediatric optometrist and Irlen Diagnostician for a more comprehensive evaluation.
What does a comprehensive evaluation look like? A comprehensive assessment will take place over 60-90 minutes and encompasses a vision assessment, followed by specific testing that also looks at:
● Difficulties in learning
● Sustained attention
● Depth perception
● The ability for eyes to track a moving object
● That both eyes can focus clearly for reading
● Reading speed
● Colour preference
● Light sensitivity
This is great - but where to from here?
You don’t need a referral to see us - just get in touch with our expert team to set up an appointment.
*Please note bookings can be made online for Irlen Screening, however Irlen Diagnostic assessments must be booked via phone. This is to ensure enough time is available for each individuals needs.
OCULA Wanaka: 03 443 5103
OCULA Queenstown: 03 441 4318