VisionLink – New learning through sight

VisionLink Behavioural Optometrists provide research based treatment for convergence insufficiency, oculomotor dysfunction, spelling and reading problems, dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, Asperger's, Learning Related Vision Disabilities, migraine and brain injuries. We are uniquely positioned to assist Visual Perception through the use of Vision Therapy, Irlen tinted lenses and Cellfield Intervention.

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Home > How We Help > Learning Related Problems > Visual Disabilities: Dyslexia & Dyseidesia, Irlen Syndrome > Irlen Syndrome

Irlen Syndrome

VisionLink is committed to Quality and that is why we bring Hawkes Bay the Best!

We provide the only Irlen Diagnostic service avaialble in Hawkes Bay.

Helen Irlen was the first to develop the best blend of subjective and objective testing protocols, with the best Precision Tinted lenses. This is known as the Irlen Method.

Don't settle for less than genuine Irlen Spectral Filter Lenses for your child's vision.

What is a Syndrome ?

A syndrome is the name given to a group of signs, symptoms & characteristics that often occur together.

The term is derived from Greek and translates as "together"  ~ on the same ~  "track".

The term Syndrome is used to quickly & clearly communicate the cluster of things that go together.

Once the definition of a particular Syndrome has been laid down, it allows a Diagnosis to be made, and a Diagnosis leads to Treatment.

Who is Helen Irlen ?

Helen L. Irlen is an internationally recognized educator, researcher, therapist, scholar, and expert in the area of visual-perceptual problems. A graduate of Cornell University, she has been in the field of education for the past 30 years. Her background includes 15 years as a School Psychologist, 30 years as a Child and Family Therapist, Educational Therapist, founder and Director of the Adult Learning Disabilities Program and Assistant Professor of Adult Learning Disabilities at California State University/Long Beach, instructor in psychology at Cornell University, and research assistant at Cornell. She has been recognized around the world for her dedication to working with children and adults.

Over 20 years ago, research directed by Helen Irlen under a federal research grant studied methods of helping children and adults with reading and learning disabilities. One important discovery was that a subgroup of individuals showed a marked improvement in their reading ability when reading material was covered by colored acetate sheets. For the next five years, Helen worked on refining her discovery, developing diagnostic testing instruments, and patenting a set of colored filters.

Because of this breakthrough, the Irlen Method has been the subject of two segments of 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, The Home Show, 60 Minutes Australia, a BBC Special, ABC Worldwide News with Peter Jennings, NBC News, and numerous TV shows around the world. She is the author of Reading By The Colors. Her work has been reported in textbooks on learning disabilities in Australia and England, and the Irlen Method has received international exposure through National Geographic, newspaper articles, magazine articles, and television documentaries.

There are over 80 affiliated Irlen Clinics worldwide and over 7,000 educators have been trained in the Irlen Method. Many school districts have included screening as part of the regular test battery administered.

What is Irlen Syndrome ?

Irlen Syndrome is a problem with the brain's ability to process visual information that can be alleviated with uniquely coloured spectacle lenses.

This problem tends to run in families and is not currently identified by other standardized educational or medical tests.

Irlen Syndrome is not an optical problem, its not about the eyes, it is about the Brain.

Irlen Syndrome is characterised by one or more of the following :

  • Light sensitivity problems
  • Poorer than expected academic and work performance
  • Poorer than expected behaviour, attention and/or concentration
  • Visual/Perceptual symptoms such as blur, ghosting, movement of words on page


  • Relief of these problems by the use of coloured overlays and coloured spectacle lenses.

If left untreated, this problem often becomes a lifetime barrier to learning and performance.

Other names have sometimes been given to this cluster of problems, (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, Visual Stress Syndrome, Meares-Irlen Syndrome).

The symptoms of Irlen Syndrome include ;

Light Sensitivity problems such as;

  • Bothered by glare, fluorescent lights, bright lights, sunlight and sometimes lights at night
  • The page appears to be too bright

Physical symptoms such as ;

  • Feeling tired or sleepy when reading,
  • Becoming anxious, or irritable
  • Headaches, nausea, mood changes
  • Restlessness or have difficulty staying focused, fidgeting, wriggling & squirming when reading
  • Discomfort, strain and fatigue

  • Eyes that hurt or become watery

Attention and Concentration problems such as;

  • Problems with concentration when reading and doing academic tasks
    These are often wrongly attributed to other conditions, such as attention deficit disorder, and are given medication unnecessarily.

Reading problems such as;

  • Poor comprehension
  • Misreading of words
  • Problems tracking from line to line
  • Preferring to read in dim light
  • Skipping words or lines
  • Reading slowly or hesitantly
  • Needing to take frequent breaks
  • Losing place when reading
  • Avoiding reading
  • Seeing distortions or movement on the page

Writing problem such as;

  • Trouble copying
  • Unequal spacing
  • Unequal letter size
  • Writing up or downhill
  • Inconsistent spelling

Other characteristics;

  • Strain or fatigue from computer use
  • Difficulty reading music
  • Sloppy, careless math errors
  • Misaligned numbers in columns
  • Ineffective use of study time
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Grades that do not reflect the amount of effort

Depth Perception problems such as;

  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty catching balls
  • Difficulty judging distances
  • Additional caution necessary while driving


  • Words on the page lack clarity or stability;
                i.e., may appear to be blurry, moving, or disappear.
  • Seeing colours on the page

The management of Irlen Syndrome

  1. Screening  (Psychometric profiling using standard protocol and coloured overlay plastic sheets)
  2. Eye Examination  (To ensure healthy eyes and optometric issues dealt with)
  3. Diagnosis   (Psychometric profiling using standard protocol and subjective procedures)
  4. Treatment  (Using coloured spectacle lenses - with focus if necessary)
  5. Review       (To ensure lenses kept up-to-date as the Visual Perception adapts to the new stimulii)

The Irlen Method combines research-based subjective screening & diagnostic procedures with precision tinted Spectral Filter lenses.

As the Irlen patient's Visual Perception continues to grow and mature, through a process called neuroplasticity, the tint needs to be updated, typically at 9 to 12 month intervals but sometimes sooner.

If necessary you can print off this card to show teachers and tutors the need for the Irlen assistance
           Click here

How do you get assessed for Irlen Syndrome ?

Helen Irlen has developed a unique pathway to ensure that you and your child can be screened for, and educated about, the symptoms and experience of a child or adult with Irlen sensitivities. It follows strict psychometric testing protocols to ensure that the child is not scripted or rehearsed in their descriptives but does draw out our understanding of their Visual Perception of what they see on the page. The benefit of this process is that you will be able to make well-informed decisions about the final outcome, which may be that your child is identified as a person who will succeed better with Irlen Precision Tinted Spectral Filter lenses.

This process is called the Irlen Method.


Book an Irlen Screening Test with one of our local Accredited Irlen Screeners near you.
(Click here for their details)

 $ 79

Book an Eye Examination appointment with Shattkys to ensure that your child's eyes are healthy and normal,
(unless they have already had an eye examination in the last year or so).   
(Click here to book the appointment)

$ 83


Book an Irlen Diagnostic appointment with Mark Eagle, Accredited Irlen Clinic Director at VisionLink.    
(Click here to book the appointment)


If Irlen specs are needed,
    then the costs will be specific to what is prescribed, but approximately;     

Irlen Spectral Filter Lenses      from


and a spectacle frame (you may already have one?)      from

$  47

How do I get my Irlen Spectral Filter Lenses updated?

1. Book an Irlen Tint Re-asssement appointment
(the tints usually need to be modified after 9-12 months for children under 12,
                   though it can be more like 2yrly changes for older children and adults)

If there is a change in the Irlen tint that is best for you,
we can often re-tint your current lenses (it takes about 10 days)

3. If the lenses are damaged or there has been a change in your focus prescription new lenses will be required  
  (We often demote the current pair to be your spare, so your new tint takes over as your main pair)  

To learn more about the history of Irlen in New Zealand   Click here

View the Sample Distortions       Click here

Where's the Research?       Click here

Why the critics are wrong........

The world is full of opinions, what really matters are results!

My experience has been that Irlen's harshest critics fall into one or more of these four categories;

  • Uninformed
  • Prejudiced
  • Inexperienced
  • Inflexible thinkers

Many of the critics are people you would trust, indeed you may have already paid for their opinion

e.g. Teachers, RTLB's, SENCO's, Headmasters, Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and GP's

I am not responsible for their viewpoint, but you are responsible for your viewpoint.

Professional people are expected to be authorative, but they can fall into the trap of commenting on topics that they are not well informed on. The simple test for you to apply is to ask yourself these two questions;

Has your child made progress following the advice you received ?

Have you listened to your child ?

It is important for the parents of children struggling with their reading to press on in their search for assistance.

Please act, and access this help for your child, despite the comments that may be made around the barbeque!

Despite the biblical quote, 'seeing is believing', it has in fact been my experience that 'believing is seeing'.

Your child may benefit from your willingness to at least look into the Irlen approach.

Your action on Irlen can reduce the stress on them, you and the teacher.

Irlen Testimonials     Click here to read of local kiwis who are enjoying the benefits right now.
Frequently Asked Questions about Irlen  Click here


New Zealand -
United States -       (Irlen Institute International Headquarters)
United Kingdom -

Irlen on YouTube