If you wonder why I am so excited that I was given depth perception when I received my Irlen filter lenses:

Now I see 3-dimensionally! When I read words I can read in phrases instead of only perceiving one word or part of a long word at a glance. I had no idea that it is normal to focus on whole phrases. I started learning photography in 1956 with an Argus C-3 35mm camera. I soon learned that if I adjusted my shutter speed to be slower I could use a smaller f-stop; this gave my photos depth. I felt odd using this feature because I felt I was manipulating what I saw. Without the camera I had to choose whether to focus on the flowers in the foreground or the scene in the background. With the camera I could show both clearly. I was 14. I did not learn what I had been missing until I was 56. At my testing with Ann Bonvallet, my Irlen diagnostician here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when we arrived at the combination of filter tints that worked for me I suddenly discovered the detail of the growth on the other side of the Huron River. I knew that if there were a deer there I would see it. Before that it was a hazy image of weeds growing along the edge of the riverbank. I looked out her window and saw a bush with dimensions I had never perceived. Then the impact of this newfound ability hit me. I could look at a tree and clearly see all the foliage clearly. I wasn’t restricted to a small area of the branches anymore. This became incredible when I drove by trees showing their fall colors. I will never forget seeing that image so clearly for the first time. I realized why I had such difficulty hitting a baseball or shooting a basketball. I was suddenly more comfortable with parallel parking. I stopped tripping walking up steps.

You must see the new Disney dvd “Like Stars on Earth,” the story of a previously undiagnosed dyslexic 8-year-old in India

This movie has done much to educate families, especially in India, about the difficulties experienced by dyslexic children. It is the most heartwarming film I have been priviledged to enjoy, no doubt, in part, due to the difficulty I had as a child. In this story a chronic daydreamer, Ishaan (played by Darsheel Safary) is sent by his parents to a boarding school with the hope he will learn discipline. Ishhaan’s chronic misery abates when an unconventional new art teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) decides to help his imaginative young student discover his true identity in this charming drama. The movie is available for purchase though Disney Home Entertainment. I got it via Netflix. Read about it at www.IMDB.com.

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A self test for migraine sufferers to see whether Irlen Syndrome may be involved

Go to self-test #2 (Please scroll down!) at www.readingandlight.com contributed by David Accola. David’s website has concise information and includes excellent video testimonials. If you are dealing with migraines be sure to see the video about the success of  9-year old girl named Kelsey who used to have a migraine every day, and now she does not.

I have suggested other Irlen sites, but now there is a most wonderful video by an adolescent.

My highest praise goes to the following site presenting a video by David Accola. Go to http://www.readingandlight.com/. It is a teen’s summary:  What Irlen is and where to find help.

Explanation of Irlen Syndrome by Rhonda Stone, Author of The Light Barrier

Irlen Syndrome, Meares-Irlen Syndrome, or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is a very specific problem associated with the photoreceptors of the eye and how wavelengths are absorbed and processed by multiple systems of the brain. There are different manifestations of this complex problem. An individual may experience just a couple or all of the symptoms: eye-strain, fatigue, headaches (including migraine), nausea, motion sickness, confusion or lack of clarity in thinking, the perception that text is moving (rising, falling, shaking, swirling, disappearing, etc.) and even problems with depth perception. Individuals with this problem may love to read but struggle to read for long periods of time; resist reading altogether because the physical issues make it a struggle; or simply appear disinterested in reading because they “don’t like it” (but they don’t know why –most adults with Irlen Syndrome live all their lives with it and, therefor, don’t know that issues they experience aren’t normal). One of the most serious manifestations is epileptic seizure (now widely understood to be caused by strobing, but less understood to be caused by what researcher Arnold Wilkins, Ph.D. University of Essex, calls “visual stress” and “pattern glare.” Reading involves patterns of text and is a visually stressful task.)

Dyslexia is commonly thought of as a learning issue. The neurobiological issues associated with it are little understood. Irlen Syndrome is a neurobiological issue that affects a variety of brain systems (beginning with the photoreceptors) and a handful of researchers are doing excellent work to define and document it. It is a neurobiological problem that can affect both health and learning, just health, or just learning.

Think of the human visual system as beginning with a “solar power plant.” The “photorecptors” capture the energy (literally, the individual wavelengths), a biochemical reaction occurs, signals are sent as a result of this biochemical reaction through the visual pathways to the deeper structures of the brain. What the photoreceptors have captured is pure ENERGY. The human skin also has photoreceptive qualities. Do you know people who burn easily? Tan easily? Some react better to ultraviolet (UV) radiation than others, right?

Well, Irlen Syndrome exists because some people have photoreceptive “solar power plants” that react inappropriately to UV radiation and a myriad of other aspects of light (short wavelengths, medium wavelengths, long wavelengths, volume of lights as expressed through dark and bright, and pattern and contrast modulation). The resulting effect is physical stress on the eyes and/or brain AND/OR unstable visual perception. For many of these people, fluorescent lighting and computer screens are particularly problematic because both are in a constant state of flicker (except LCD screens), which adds to the visual stress.

Irlen Syndrome is a very specific condition that manifests in different ways. Tinted lenses reduce the symptoms by modifying the wavelengths (or ENERGY) absorbed by the photoreceptors. The modification improves how the physical system receives and processes the light. This is totally logical to physicists and a few people studying both photosensitivity and the neurobiology of the brain. Sadly many ophthalmologists and optometrists have never studied the physics of light, let alone photosensitivity and neurobiology.

I am pleased to see that the first International Symposium on Visually-Induced Motion Sickneess, Fatigue, and Epileptic Seizure (VIMS) is being held in Hong Kong this December (2007). Because thousands of children were stricken by epileptic seizures during and immediately after a popular Pokemon movie in theaters following a short strobing segment a number of years ago, the scientific community finally became interested in this important new area of brain science. A brand new American movie may produce a smaller effect, if the scientific community pays attention. The movie is American Gangster, and it too includes a short strobing segment.I welcome further discussions on this topic.

RSStone74@aol.com Taken from a discussion at beingdyslexic.co.uk November 4, 2007

Note: Scroll down to see previous article which is what she was responding to.

Miscellaneous Symptoms of Irlen Syndrome

  • yellowsignsirlensx.jpgDiscomfort with busy patterns, particularly stripes
  • Discomfort with extreme conditions of bright/dark contrast (i.e. backlighting)
  • Poor cursive writing; prefers to print
  • Inability to write on a line; unequal spacing
  • Inconsistent spelling
  • Attention and concentration difficulties
  • Lack of motivation in school
  • Grades do not reflect the amount of effort expended
  • Inability to read music; may play “by ear”
  • Problems copying
  • Epileptic seizure relating to strobing or pattern glare
  • Problems with depth perception (catching small balls, judging distances). See post about this by using the Search feature at the top of the page and enter “depth perception”.

Distortions which Irlen Syndrome can cause when reading

Letters move on the page like ants. Flipping: a “b” can become a “d” and back to a “b” in seconds. River effect: spacing occurs at random. Melted letters: letters actually shrink to the point that you can no longer tell what they are. Washout effect: the centers of the letters disappear. Swirl effect: the only portion of the page that is clear is perhaps one inch at a time. Blurry effect: this looks like the same writing went through a copier 4 to 5 times. Seesaw effect: letters appear in waves instead of a straight line. White space between words dominating a page and causing words to disappear, to print that would dance, vibrate, pulsate, jiggle, shift, shimmer, move and more. Other distortions reported were lines of text that appeared to slide sideways across or down a page, words washed out through the center, words with halos, and words crowded together with little or no space between. Discomfort or difficulty reading (reading involves busy patterns, particulary stripes. People with strong symptoms of the syndrome find it difficult to read black text on white paper, particulary when the paper is slightly shiny.Text that appears to move (rise, fall, swirl, shake, etc.) Seeing the part and losing the whole. Attention and concentration difficulties are the result. To see sample distortions go to http://irlen.com/distortioneffects.php

Depth Perception Difficulties that may occur with Irlen Syndrome

  • Difficulty getting on and off escalators
  • Trips going up stairs
  • Clumsy or uncoordinated
  • Walks into door jams and table edges
  • Bumps into things
  • Bumps into another person when walking side by side
  • Difficulty judging distances (like when shooting a basketball or deciding if there is time to safely pass a car on a 2 lane road)
  • Difficulty with parallel parking
  • Drops things or knocks things over
  • Difficulty catching small balls
  • Accident Prone (including auto accidents)
  • Difficulty playing pool, golf or tennis
  • Restricted span of vision:inability to read words in groups or see objects in the environment as a whole; this can affect the ability to recognize and understand facial expressions and body language. This may apply to Asperger’s Syndrome. Also described as restricted field of view and span of recognition.

Reading Difficulties encountered with Irlen Syndrome

Here are some of the reading difficulties people may encounter with Irlen Syndrome:

(But keep in mind that you may only experience a few of these things)

  • Skips words or lines
  • Repeats or rereads lines
  • Loses place on the page
  • Reads in a stop and go rhythm
  • Reads word by word rather than in phrases
  • Does not focus on the pages more than a few minutes
  • Omits small words
  • Tires when reading
  • Headache while reading
  • Words move around
  • Words jump off the page
  • Trouble focusing
  • Words spin
  • Words move around
  • Words may shift around or move off the page
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Strain or fatigue
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Headaches or upset stomach (feels sick when reading)
  • Fidgety or restless
  • Reading becomes harder as you continue (read for less than an hour)
  • I always had the TV on when I was trying to read because I could not focus.
  • Rereads for comprehension (low comprehension)
  • Reversals of letters
  • Reads slowly or hesitantly
  • Takes frequent breaks
  • Avoids reading (although he/she likes to be read to)
  • Reads in dim lighting
  • Misreads words
  • Has test anxiety
  • Bothered by glare
  • Bothered by shiny pages or whiteboard
  • Eyes and lids get red
  • Eyes get watery
  • Eyes itch or burn
  • Rubs eyes frequently
  • Complains of eyes hurting
  • Feel light is insufficient or there is too much light
  • Words disappear
  • Shades the page with hand
  • Moves head from left to right when reading
  • When I would try to sit down to read I would start falling asleep after just a couple of pages and struggle to continue. I never understood why and I was so frustrated. And I never comprehended what I had just tried to read! In fact after I resolved my Irlen Syndrome I called my sister, Joyce Boice with a question. “I know this is a strange question, but do you have to stand up to read? ” There was a long pause, and then she answered “Yes.” I always fell asleep if reading sitting down.
  • In college at the U. of M. when I would eat the starchy dinner served to us then sit at my desk tryng to study under the fluorescent lamp at the desk I became immediately exhausted beyond comprehension and had to go to bed always no matter how I tried to stay awake.
  • When I tried to read my own lecture notes in college my comprehesion was lacking even though I had written them myself.
  • uses finger or a marker to keep place
  • Strong preference for reading in columns as in newspapers or magazines
  • Misreading small words like of, off, the and a. Might change endings of words from -ing to -ed or -s, skipping whole line, and jumping to sentences above or below the line being read.

To learn more about Irlen Syndrome, visit www.Irlen.com

Handwriting clues to Irlen Syndrome

Here are some handwriting clues for people wondering if they or someone they know has Irlen Syndrome:

  • Writes up or downhill
  • Unequal or no spacing between letters or words
  • Unequal letter size
  • Unable to write on a line
  • trouble copying
  • Leaves out words, letters, or puctuation marks
  • Inconsistent spelling
  • I wrote at an agle when I tried to write to my wife to be, Karen, when I was in college at Ferris State in Michigan. I would try again to have the writing be horizontal not knowing why I had this tendancy.

Learn more at www.irlen.com