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Meares-Irlen Syndrome (Visual Stress)

Meares-Irlen Syndrome (or sometimes Irlen Syndrome) is a photosensitive condition that affects the visual cortex and hinders reading. It is scientifically known as ‘Visual Stress’ or ‘Pattern Glare’, and historically referred to as ‘Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome’. Its prevalence varies depending on the diagnostic criteria used, but significant degrees of visual stress affect about 12% of unselected samples of the population, and about 30% of children with dyslexia.

Research by the British Medical Research Council (MRC) showed that lenses can be carefully tinted to a precise colour to help alleviate the symptoms that derive from an underlying hyper-excitability of neurons in the human brain and it is possibly a result of impaired gain control mechanisms. Besides the use of a precision colour filter, the effects of visual stress can also be alleviated by modifying the design and layout of printed text. The symptoms described by patients are not specific to the condition and they can be very similar to other problems of the eye and vision. Hence, current international guidelines (e.g. British College of Optometrists36) recommend the diagnosis of visual stress only after excluding all possible eye and visual conditions, and the use of an Intuitive Colorimeter to accurately measure the optimum coloured filter.

Treatment Efficacy using Precision Coloured Filters In patients with visual stress (Meares-Irlen Syndrome), an appropriately chosen chromaticity will not only improve perceptual clarity and reduce perceptual distortions, but also can reduce visual fatigue and increase the speed of reading and of visual search. The optimal chromaticity for each individual is very precise, but a less precise colour can also offer some degree of help. A study of unselected children in mainstream education found that when offered a choice of overlays, 20% routinely used an overlay of their chosen colour for reading. They did so without prompting for months on end, claiming improved clarity and reduced perceptual distortion.

Please find the full article HERE

Lecture on Scotopic Sensitivity Disorder/ Pattern Glare / Visual Stress/ Irlen Syndrome: Prescribing Colours (Precision Spectral Filters) and Intuitive Colorimetry by Yap Tiong Peng and Prof Stephen Dain

Optometric Characteristics of Children with Reading Difficulties who Report a Benefit from Coloured Filters by Bruce J.W. Evans, Arnold J. Wilkins, Ann Busby and Rebecca Jeanes


 News interview by Mediacorp TV Channel 8 and Channel News Asia on Meares Irlen Syndrome (Visual Stress) and Dyslexia with Senior Consultant Optometrist Yap Tiong Peng (IGARD Group Singapore) and Professor Bruce Evans (City University London and U.K. Institute of Optometry).
News interview by Mediacorp TV Channel 8 and Channel News Asia on Meares Irlen Syndrome (Visual Stress) and Dyslexia with Senior Consultant Optometrist Yap Tiong Peng (IGARD Group Singapore) and Professor Bruce Evans (City University London and U.K. Institute of Optometry).

Disclaimer: Whilst precision spectral filters can remediate visual stress, IGARD (Singapore/Asia) DOES NOT USE or ENDORSE THE USE of IRLEN brand products (e.g. IRLEN lenses and IRLEN Method) which is a registered trademark owned by Perceptual Development Corporation and Helen Irlen from the IRLEN INSTITUTE in California, USA.

In areas where research supports the treatment and diagnosis of visual stress (and/or visual perceptual discomfort arising from the Meares-Irlen syndrome), IGARD (Singapore/Asia) and its affiliates adhere to evidence-based clinical practice and DOES NOT endorse any claims / recommendations / products / services from any organisation / company, including that from IRLEN INSTITUTE (USA) and IRLEN DYSLEXIA CLINIC (Singapore).

Consultant optometrists from IGARD are registered with the Ministry of Health. Local health regulations prohibits proprietary product endorsements by health professionals. All products and services obtained/ rendered from affiliates and/or employees of IGARD (Singapore/Asia) is aligned to international standards of best practice where applicable.

It is essential to seek professional help and advice from optometrists/ ophthalmologists/ medical doctors should you become aware of any eye/ vision/ visual perceptual problems. Feedback and/or complaint can be made directly to Head of Optometry & Clinical Director, Senior Consultant Optometrist Yap Tiong Peng c/o Paediatric Optometry Pte Ltd, 51 Cuppage Road 01-04 Singapore 229469, in writing.

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