An explanation of Irlen Syndrome by Helen Irlen

as a guest presenter on a South American radio program titled “Color Lumenaries’ RadioBlog – March 31, 2012

I want to thank Luminaries for the opportunity to speak to you today and for selecting me for the 2012 COLOR ANGEL Award presented by the Aura House School of Color Therapy.

Today I will be talking to you about the method that I created over 30 years ago using colored plastic sheets or overlays to correct visual reading problems and visual dyslexia and my unique colored glasses called Irlen Spectral Filters. I will explain why they work, who they can help, how you can tell if you or a loved one needs them, and what you can do to change your environment at home.

We all know the power of color. I want to talk about how wearing color as glasses or contact lenses, a color that is especially chosen especially for your brain, can change your life. Thirty years ago I started doing research on correcting reading problems using colored overlays and lenses. Now there are millions of adults and children who are documenting the powerful ways in which wearing color can change lives.

There is an important concept which you need to know. Did you know that that it is not your eye that processes visual information? There is a whole visual system beyond the eye. The eye is just the receiver which transmits visual information to the brain. Vision trumps all other senses. Over 70% of the information we receive is visual which enters the eye and must be correctly interpreted by the brain. We actually see what our brain wants us to see.

However, there can be a mismatch between what the brain tells us we are seeing and what we actually should be seeing. Sometimes perception doesn’t match the physical reality of the world.

Think about optical illusions: how the picture looks like it is moving, changing, pulsating, colors appear, etc. Somehow the interpretation of what we are seeing is wrong. The picture isn’t changing. The optical illusion isn’t really moving, pulsating, swirling, flickering, or flashing. It was created in such a fashion as to trick the brain into seeing things that aren’t there or seeing things differently.

When we put black print on a white page, we didn’t think that it would become an optical illusion. We never expected that objects in our environment, such as curbs and escalators, would become optical illusions. However, for some individuals the world around them or even the printed page becomes an optical illusion. When this happens, you experience difficulties in school reading, copying, doing math calculations, getting good grades, and you may be bright but not able to perform as well as you expected on tests. As a result, you may feel as if you are dumb, stupid, lazy, or even bad because you cannot live up to the expectations of parents and teachers. The distortions can be so bad that you are mislabeled as LD, ADD/HD, and/or dyslexic. The distortions can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, eye strain or pain, nausea, dizziness, stomachaches, sleepiness, fidgety, and even fatigue or anxiety.

What does all of this have to do with color? Here is the important concept to remember. All visual information, as it goes from the eye to the brain, is translated in wavelengths of light which are just colors traveling at different speeds. If you take white light and put it through a prism, you see all of the colors of the rainbow. That is because light is composed of all the colors of the rainbow. The brain is basically being bombarded every nanosecond with wavelengths of light or colors which it has to process and integrate back into the pictures, objects, words, and numbers that we see.

When perception is wrong or distorted, it is because your brain is having difficulty processing certain of the colors (wavelengths of light). What can happen?

When reading, writing, copying or doing math, you may not be seeing things as they should be. You might be trying to read words or numbers; and, without realizing what is happening, words are getting blurry, going in and out of focus, pulsating on the page, swirling, disappearing, and reappearing. What you do know is that you lose your place, misread, and have problems tracking from line to line. You are working so hard at seeing the words that you have to reread for comprehension. If you are trying to do math, it is hard to keep numbers in the correct column, and you make what look like careless errors. The Irlen Method, using colored plastic sheets called overlays or colored glasses, can eliminate these problems.

Do you get sleepy when you read and think that reading is supposed to put you to sleep?
Do you get headaches if you push your reading but think that everyone gets headaches if they read long enough?

The Irlen Method, using colored plastic sheets called overlays or colored glasses, can eliminate these problems too. With the use of color, some children, if they have this type of visual processing problem, may no longer struggle learning how to read. Even children and adults who have good reading skills may be paying a price needlessly and need color. Wouldn’t you like to be able to read without getting a headache or feeling tired or sleepy? Wouldn’t you like to be able to read without taking breaks or having to reread for comprehension? Think about Irlen Method and color.

Did you wear sunglasses? What happens when you stay outside in the bright sun too long without your sunglasses? Does it bother your eyes or head? Do you get tired, sleepy, and anxious? Did you know that you are experiencing these same physical symptoms with bright lights, fluorescent lights, glare, or lights at night? Not a trigger…slower build and not as aware of the stress and discomfort. The brightness of the white page, whiteboards, and computer screens cause the same physical symptoms as sunlight. Wearing color can eliminate these problems and many more.

The Irlen Method has the key to eliminating these difficulties. We have the diagnostic tools to determine which color or wavelengths of light your brain is having difficulty processing. We filter out just the colors which are creating a problem and just the amount needed. We create a color for your brain, which is worn as glasses or contact lenses, to remove all of the problems we have been talking about.

Are you bothered by light and find you feel calmer and more comfortable in dim lighting? Lighting is a chronic stressor. We all know that chronic stress is bad for the immune system. However, we think of chronic stress as children, work, divorce, death, taking care of aging parents, and having teenagers. However, lighting itself can be a chronic stress for some people and also affect your immune system. You may come home from work exhausted and think it is your job, BUT it may just be the lighting. How wonderful to wear Irlen Colored Filters to protect your brain and your immune system so that you are no longer tired when you come home from work.

I have just touched on how wearing color can help so many people with so many different problems including autism, depth perception, driving, and anxiety.

Dim lighting will not hurt your eyes…as whispering will not hurt your ears. So let your child read in dim light if s/he wants, but this also indicates s/he should be tested for Irlen.
Indirect natural lighting is the best in which to read and work. Fluorescent lighting is the worst.
Visors and brimmed hats worn not just outside but also inside. Color of the underside of the brim should be dark black, brown, or green. Absorb light and not reflect it into your eyes.
Try changing the background color on your computer…go to to try colors.
Use same colored paper for writing.
Ask yourself, ask your children:
At some point when you read, does the page look different?
At some point when you read, do you feel strain, tired, get headaches, etc.
Some people can read for hours. Nothing changes, and it is always comfortable no matter how long they read. They are not luckier – they do not have Irlen Syndrome.
Irlen Syndrome is inherited. So if you have any of these problems, it is not your fault; you can blame either or both of your parents. And, you may have passed this on to your children. If you relate to any of the symptoms I have mentioned, check your children to see if they do as well. Children rarely report headaches or other physical symptoms, and they don’t know how a page is supposed to look. Ask questions.
Self-Tests for Headaches, reading problems, autism, and light sensitivity are available on

Be aware that if you are light sensitive and wear sunglasses, there may be a whole array of other areas in which you are paying a price — all of which can be helped by wearing the right color or using the right color that has been prescribed for your brain. As everyone’s brain is different, everyone needs their own unique and different color. Take the Irlen Self-Test (available on to see all of the different areas that can be helped.

For more information, let me suggest you go to and read my books Reading by the Colors and The Irlen Revolution: A Guide to Changing Your Perception and your Life. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

IF you have questions, just send me an email via our website


  1. Hi Roger,
    You have a great blog. I look forward to reading more articles.

  2. I came across great blog. Learned lot of information.

  3. Judy rothrock says:

    I would crawl to anywhere for this help for faceblindness, dyslexia, aspurgers, etc, ad nauseam.

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