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Tinted glasses for Irlen's syndrome (how much difference do they make?)

(83 Posts)
teamcullen Wed 22-Jul-09 07:38:57

My 7 year old was diagnosed with Irlen's syndrome earlier this year, and was reccomended to use a turquoise overlay to help with his reading. However, I was wondering whether to get him further tested to see if he needs the tinted glasses.

He seems to really have to concentrate when doing his work, so dosent produce much although his teacher says the content is good. However this leaves him exhausted. He is also quite clumsy, forever tripping up and knocking things over.

Looking at the Irlen's web site, there are lots of indications that Irlen's effects my son in every day life which, before I hadnt connected to Irlen's.

So, has anybody used the tinted glasses themselves or for their children? Do they make much difference? Most importantly, do they make life easier?

TurtleAnn Thu 23-Jul-09 11:21:54

Absolutely essential. I have this and I spent £300. on blue tinted glasses - they were worth every penny.
My problem is that when I look at a section of text I see the blank spaces more than the words and it can be hard to follow the lines, they also seem to move so I can only focus on a few words at a time - making it harder to hold the whole sentence in my head.
The blue overlay changes the pronouncedness of the white spaces between words and makes seeing the sentences easier.
Lots of opticians in the UK still don't believe this exists - easy if you haven't got it! There are excellent optometrists in South London at the Institute of Optometry who will be able to assess and prescribe overlays and glasses.
I think there is much more research to be done in this field but other things that affect me, that I think are related, are:
I have to turn the brightness down on computer screens to prevent headaches
and turn the refresh rate up (but that should be done for everyone).
I also have to have a background light when watching TV as it seems to bright and leaves me with a headache.
I also got a desklamp in exams which really helped, no extra time, but then with the glasses and the desklamp I didn't need extra time and my grades went through the roof.
I am 33 now and will be watching my DS for signs.

teamcullen Fri 24-Jul-09 08:57:31

Thanks. I will put some serious thorght into it. To be honest if the testing was cheaper I would'nt even be considering it I would just get the test done.

The assessment my son had at school identified he prefared the turquoise overlays, to read without the lights off and to use a reading stand for his books.

Do you think if I email this information to Irlen's they will give me some more idea to testing suitability. I dont want to be ripped off with them saying yes he needs this that and the other when I cant really afford it. But at the same time if it really improves my son's life and makes school easier I know its worth the money.

TurtleAnn Fri 24-Jul-09 13:14:35

I wouldn't go to Myers Irlen for exactly that reason.
Try ringing The Institute of Optometry in London, they will be able to advise you further about testing options. Although if the school have already identified the problem, diagnosis and intervention - the only thing left is glasses and that should be done by an optometrist (to be double sure there are no additional eye difficulties).
If the overlays work, the only thing I would do extra is make sure the school know he would benefit from a desk lamp in exams. When you can afford it and when you feel he would benefit (when serious exams kick in at school), get glasses.

Fava Mon 27-Jul-09 20:12:42

Hello teamcullen,
there are 3 of us with tinted glasses. Dc and I find them essential to do any work on the computer, prefer them on when reading and writing. I also wear them when driving at night. I also wore coloured lenses when I was a child and Irlene research had just started to be published.
We didn't go to any of the Irlene centres but chose to book an appointment in Scotland with Ian Jordan. The assessment is free through the NHS, children get a voucher towards their frames and the lenses could also be free (all of ours were).

maverick Wed 29-Jul-09 08:11:21

'Behavioral vision therapy, eye exercises, and colored lenses have no role in treatment of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The academy came down hard on these "scientifically unsupported" alternative treatments in a joint statement with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and other vision organizations.'

BikeRunSki Wed 29-Jul-09 08:17:53

A good friend of mine (30s) has been wearing purple tints for a couple of years, they make a huge difference. She used to have trouble seeing details (she hadn't seen the vein in a leaf until she started wearing her tints), has passed her driving test and can read large chunks of text without, in her words, "freaking out".

maverick Wed 29-Jul-09 12:27:37

I'm sorry to say that the plural of anecdote is not data. As Sir Jim Rose wrote in his recent report on dyslexia '(A)ssessment for visual stress and response to treatment is by subjective report' i.e. is not based on scientific evidence.

'There’s a psychological phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance which is the tendency to filter out information that conflicts with what one already believes, in an effort to ignore that information and reinforce one's beliefs. In the context of intervention, it is uncomfortable to conclude that one put in a lot of time and money into a treatment that has not worked. There is likely, therefore, to be a cognitive bias to paint as bright a picture as possible. This seems supported by studies that find a mismatch between people’s perceptions of efficacy and objective evidence.'' (Prof Bishop.BDA 2008. ppt)

filchthemildmanneredjanitor Wed 29-Jul-09 12:29:46

wow maverick-you are really good at copying and pasting aren't you?

do you have any opinions and thoughts of your own?

teamcullen Wed 29-Jul-09 15:03:49

Maverick: my son is not dyslexic. His problem is that when he is reading or writing on white paper, the text moves about so he finds it hard to read and write. This makes it hard to concentrate for long periods and gives him headaches.

He now uses a coloured overlay over the page when reading and finds writing easier on coloured paper. Dispite what scientific evidence there may or may not be, my son has gone up 3 sub levels in 6 months in reading and writing due to this being identified and action taken.

My question was whether the tinted glasses would make life easier for him so he could see all things in perspective and not just what is on coloured paper, street signs and menus, for instance.

mrz Wed 29-Jul-09 15:35:58

Prof. Wilkins and colleagues of Essex University were amongst the first to apply scientific rigor to the study of scotopic sensitivity or Meares-Irlen Syndrome, as it had become known. The Essex University team set up double blind placebo controlled trials and went on to establish a number of tools for screening for scotopic sensitivity and quantifying the effects of coloured overlays.

The screening test is available to professionals and is know as the Intuitive Overlays Test. Whilst the tool used to quantify the effects of overlays is also available to professionals and is known as the Wilkins rate of reading test.

More information can be found HERE

mrz Wed 29-Jul-09 15:43:18
rate of reading test info

maverick Wed 29-Jul-09 19:08:49

My opinion is that people shouldn't advocate unscientifically tested treatments and therapies for those with reading difficulties.

Tinted overlay guru Wilkins himself, '(W)ent on to conclude that the wearing of tinted lenses is unlikely to have a direct effect on the child's level of reading skill' (Muter. Early Reading Development and Dyslexia. p 179)

teamcullen Wed 29-Jul-09 19:18:13

thanks mrz. those sites were helpful.

mrz Wed 29-Jul-09 20:08:02

mavrick the OP said Irlen's effects her son's everyday life, clumsy, knocking things over etc. she's looking at glasses to help with this.

Perlot Mon 24-Aug-09 13:51:12

Hello all,

I HAD to get involved in this discussion. My wife is one of the foremost experts on MIS in the UK.

First, it works, I see it every day, kids who can't read come to my wife and leave able to read, with knock on effects in their behaviour, self esteem etc. We see people in tears with relief that they are not "thick".

The main reason I wanted to post here though is the comments from Maverick. This person is basically misquoting left right and centre.

1. Professor Wilkinson DID NOT say what is quoted, quite the opposite in fact.
2. The rose report on dyslexia DOES NOT contain the quote given, I am looking at it now, actually is says that "changing background with visual stress" and "using coloured overlays is used in schools etc. etc.".
3. There IS scientific evidence for this phenomenon. If Maverick had actually bothered to READ "Reading Through Colour: How Coloured Filters Can Reduce Reading Difficulty, Eye Strain and Headaches" by Professor Wilkins they would see this, also try "Reading by the Colours: Overcoming Dyslexia and Other Reading Disabilities Through the Irlen Method" by Irlen that ALSO has scientific studies in it.

Please do not be put off trying overlays by people like Maverick. THEY WORK. Just to be clear, THEY WORK. Wilkins says so, Rose says so, despite what Maverick misquotes.

And if you are thinking "well he would say that, his wife's in the business, he has an agenda". Yes I DO have an agenda, I want children to be able to read without getting headaches, so sue me.

You don't have to come to my wife (her website is by the way) there are others in the UK and abroad, but don't shut this off as a possible way to help your child through one of the most difficult times of their life by leaving them with a debilitating problem that can be fixed with a £3 bit of see through coloured plastic.

There, I feel better now.

I hope this has helped

Perlot Mon 24-Aug-09 13:56:53

Oh, and as for glasses, yes they work too.

It's a matter of personal preference though, some kids get on with them, some don't, some don't like the idea of being different etc...they are quite a bit more expensive than overlays too, but much more convenient as they can work with writing and classwork as well.

I note also that MAverick quotes the Rose dyslexia report as saying that the evidence is subjective. Well, 1, it doesn't say that but 2, if it did, so what. Pretty much all optical studies are subjective, you are asking people to report what they see. Go to any opticians and see if they can give you a prescription just by looking at you...they need your, gasp SUBJECTIVE opinion on how well you see. Same for ALL the senses.

All of the dyslexia studies are subjective, should we throw those out too? What about non neuro-psychology, all bunk because you can't to an fMRI scan for happiness?

Don't think so...

jabberwocky Mon 24-Aug-09 13:57:41

The tinted filters are nice for those things where you can't do the overlays such as computers, math, etc. So if it is helping noticeably with reading and the problem is with writing then yes, filters would be the next step.

jabberwocky Mon 24-Aug-09 13:58:30

The Irlen Institute also offers a service to tint contact lenses for people who don't want to look "different".

Perlot Mon 24-Aug-09 15:36:43

Jabberwocky is right indeed, although the feedback on the contact lenses is mixed, but again I'm sure they work with different people. Also, the law is slightly questionable on whether your insurance would cover you driving in them, so adults, be careful....

By the way, just be wary of the tinting colour, people such as Cerium and other suppliers of tints do have some colours which are slightly different although have the same name (so "rose" from cerium might be a bit different from the "rose" you'd get at at an optician). It's not a huge risk but I would suggest asking the person who did the checks what manufacturer they use. You can usually tell by looking at the actual overlay itself in the corner. From what I can gather (not 100% here) but Cerium is the standard that opticians use usually.

ALSO, SHOP AROUND, the price for tinting can be scandalous with some companies charging over £100 for "dipping" whilst with others it is half that or less, again, the person who does the actual testing should be able to point you in the right direction.

take care, P.

cornsillk Mon 24-Aug-09 15:48:49

Fava you said that your assessment was free through the NHS? How did you go about getting that? Did you approach an optometrist yourself?

jabberwocky Mon 24-Aug-09 16:03:46

If you go with a certified Irlen Diagnostician there are only two labs licensed to do their filters so that the color is pure. Perlot is right about variations if you have it done elsewhere.

stressa Tue 25-Aug-09 20:46:47

ummm I'm always on about this! - Please take a look at Ian Jordan's website (google Jordans eyes and it comes up with "Jordans multisensory optician), you can also phone him to discuss.

His practice is in Ayr, Scotland but free assessments on NHS up there. He could tell you which centres nearer you do orthoscopics. From personal experience (mine and 2 ds) I would really recommend him.

Hope all goes well, whatever you decide,

aprilflowers Wed 26-Aug-09 21:15:44

Maverick - on any thread concerning dyslexia s/he infers that dyslexia doesn't exist.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but Im glad s/he is being challenged.
Again perhaps people should look at the research of Professor Bruce Evans on the subject of Irlen Syndrome.

Muffy17 Wed 29-Sep-10 17:56:13

Meares-Irlen (or Visual Stress) is very real and has a major impact on peoples lives.Our son has had years of abuse from teachers telling him he is lazy, stupid etc. After struggling for many years and after visiting opticians, Doctors etc we finally got to the route of the problem via our local Sensory Support Service within the County Council's Children's Services. They conducted tests and directed to Professor Bruce Evans. Our son had prescribed coloured lenses and it has made an 80% difference to his reading and writing.He was assessed by an Educational Psychologist and in addition was diagnosed with dyslexia. The SENCO at school told us we were wasting our time and in the last 6 months before GCSEs we worked hard doing mind maps to help him revise. He was predicted straight Fs and he achieved 1A, 3 Bs and 6 Cs. This enabled him to go to college and now on to University.

We were on the verge of giving up and accepting what the teachers were saying' but we decided to fight for our son and challenged the fact that he was "written off". The simple solution of prescribed tinted lenses and additional support has been a life changing experience not just for our son but many other people. It should be funded by the NHS and we are getting the support of our MP.The condition is currently not recognised by the NHS but there is now plenty of significant research to confirm the condition. The problem appears to be the loophole in the Optician's Act which recognises "focal" problems but not neurological eye problems. This must change and I would urge all parents/carers to lobby their local MP in order to make this happen.

Also if you suspect your child has this problem ie if the text on a page moves or blurs, or if he/she says " the letters are fizzing" take your child to an optician who has a colorimeter machine.This way they can be correctly tested and diagnosed.

Do not take NO for an answer if you do not fight for your child no one else will.

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