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Irlen syndrome

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Irlen syndrome
Pseudomedical diagnosis

Irlen syndrome (or scotopic sensitivity syndrome) is a hypothetical medical condition of disordered visual processing which, it is proposed, can be treated by wearing colored lenses. The ideas of Irlen syndrome are pseudoscientific and not supported by scientific evidence,[1][2][3] and its treatment has been described as a health fraud taking advantage of vulnerable people.[4]

The condition was proposed in the 1980s.[5]

Irlen method


The Irlen method uses colored overlays and tinted lenses in the form of glasses or contact lenses. The method is intended to correct visual processing problems; it is claimed the resultant retiming of visual signals in the brain improves symptoms associated with Irlen syndrome.[6]



In 1980, New Zealand teacher Olive Meares described the visual distortions some individuals reported when reading from white paper. In 1983, while working under a federal research grant at the California State University of Long Beach, American psychologist Helen Irlen thought that filtering the visual information before reaching the brain through the use of either colored overlays or spectral filters (worn as glasses), could allow the brain to correctly process the visual information it received. They thought that in doing so, these colored overlays and spectral filters could eliminate symptoms associated with Irlen syndrome. Similar symptoms were separately described by Meares and Irlen, each unaware of the other's work. Irlen, who was the first to systematically define the condition, named the condition "scotopic sensitivity syndrome," though in years following, some referred to it as Meares-Irlen syndrome, Irlen syndrome, and visual stress.[citation needed]

Early studies investigating Irlen syndrome as a treatable condition have been criticized for having a biased and subjective approach to their research.[5]

See also



  1. ^ Cotton M, Evans K (1990). "A review of the use of Irlen (tinted) lenses". Australian and New Zealand Journal of Ophthalmology. 18 (3): 307–12. doi:10.1111/j.1442-9071.1990.tb00625.x. PMID 2261178.
  2. ^ Miyasaka, Jordan Da Silva; Vieira, Raphael V. Gonzaga; Novalo-Goto, Elaine Shizue; Montagna, Erik; Wajnsztejn, Rubens (March 2019). "Irlen syndrome: systematic review and level of evidence analysis". Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria. 77 (3): 194–207. doi:10.1590/0004-282X20190014. PMID 30970133. S2CID 108293945.
  3. ^ LaBrot Z, Dufrene B (2019). "Chapter 5: Learning". In Hupp S (ed.). Pseudoscience in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy: A Skeptical Field Guide. Cambridge University Press. pp. 66–79. doi:10.1017/9781316798096.007. ISBN 9781107175310. S2CID 240819473.
  4. ^ Travers JC, Ayers K, Simpson RL, Crutchfield S (2016). "Fad, Pseudoscientific, and Controversial Interventions". In Lang R, Hancock T, Singh N (eds.). Early Intervention for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder – Evidence-Based Practices in Behavioral Health. Springer. pp. 257–293. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-30925-5_9. ISBN 978-3-319-30923-1. [We] consider this method to be a classic example of a commercial enterprise preying on vulnerable and desperate individuals in search of simple solutions for developmental disorders and disabilities
  5. ^ a b "Irlen Syndrome | Science-Based Medicine". 7 August 2013.
  6. ^ "The University of Newcastle, Australia". The University of Newcastle, Australia. 13 November 2015. Archived from the original on 12 January 2007.