VisionLink – New learning through sight

Vision Link Behavioural Optometrists provide research based treatment for convergence insufficiency, oculomotor dysfunction, spelling and reading problems, dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, Aspergers, 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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Irlen Testimonials 2011


It's not too late to get your Irlen lenses sorted!

I've known from a young age that there was something different about me, as I couldn't focus for long, white and bright forms  of  light  sent me into a spiral of pain and discomfort.  Reading was my worst nightmare, with the words moving and sometimes jumping off the page.  What would Take a “normal” person maybe 10 minutes to read an article,  would  take me up to sometimes an hour!  Then in the middle of this year I found out that I have Irlen Syndrome.

When I started to learn more about Irlen's, I was worried that I would be teased as I had to have special glasses, with coloured   lenses. But you know what?... having coloured  lenses has changed my life dramatically!!  I am now able to go outside without fearing the light, and I'm gradually building my reading confidence up.

As far back as High School I've been told I will never make anything of myself and that I was best to sticking to working at a supermarket as I didn't have the brains to go to polytech or university. But to this day I have a New Zealand Certificate in Nanny Education and a National Certificate in Metal Health Support Work.  I also passed NCEA levels 1,2,3 and University Entrance.

Being Tested for Irlen Syndrome is the best thing I've ever done! And you know what… I love my purple glasses!  Yes people look at me funny or ask me to remove my sunglasses  but I just smile or try to explain,  as I am a “normal” person just ‘Rocking' a pair of styley purple glasses!

If you suspect someone you know may have Irlen Syndrome DON'T be afraid to enquire about it or get them tested, as it may affect them more than you think, and they need all the support they can get.

At the end of the day I may have Irlen Syndrome but the Irlen Syndrome is not who makes me as a person.  I just happen to be a person that has this condition and if it wasn't for the support of my family and friends I wouldn't have made it this far.  Don't give up on hope.  Be proud of who you are and remember you're  not alone.

Chrystelle Webber  age 21 of Hastings      29th Dec 2011


A changed lad

What the glasses have done for Jakob

He never liked school and trying to get him to do home work was a nightmare!
Now he has his glasses what a transformation! He has more confidence, he's a lot happier, and when it comes to home work he just gets on with it.

As a parent you just want the best for your child and help them as much as possible and this was one of the best things I could of done for him, money well spent!

Jakob Paul's Mum      (Jakob is 13yrs from Marton)    23 Dec 2011


A happier 6yr old reader

This lastest testimonial is actually the grandmothers feed-back

The Irlen glasses are a huge hit!
We were shown a graph in his (Kaden) last school report for reading that showed an average line leading up to the glasses - from there the peak shown looked like Mt Everest!

No more to say really as that kind of says it all don't you think.

Needless to say Kaden is a lot happier, (and so is his Mum).

We, as a family do wonder what drawbacks could have come from Kaden struggling on without the Irlen lenses.

Thanks also to all of you who assisted Kaden - my daughter was full of praise for the really friendly, professional help received.

Kind regards

Jude (Kaden's Nana) of Napier.

Dawn Russell writes about her experience as an adult getting Irlen Spectral Filters.

I got my first glasses when I was 17.  They were supposed to help avoid the headaches I was getting at my holiday job.  They weren't very effective, and despite numerous eye exams, I wore virtually the same lenses for the next 20 years.  In the meantime, I completed my training and started working as a teacher.  The headaches continued, particularly at times when the workload increased.  Marking exams and writing reports was hell.  After a full day at school, I couldn't concentrate very long in the evening.  I had to do reports, and large amounts of marking, at the weekend.  I always seemed to be last to finish and needed a patient colleague to proof read my work.  For many years I tried to find a cause for the headaches and short attention span – lots of tests with no results worth reporting.  The only thing that seemed to help was wearing dark sunglasses even in the rain.

Early this year, one of my colleagues attended a seminar on Irlen Syndrome.  Karen works with some of our special needs students and was excited about what she heard.  So was I.  When I downloaded the long self-test, I found more than half of the statements fit me perfectly.  I showed Karen my results without telling her it was me.  She thought I had a candidate for the special needs unit. 

Karen put me in contact with Prue Deighton in Marton.  Prue exposed a lot of strategies that I had come to depend on over the years; things like using my finger as a place marker, casting my shadow over the book (or reading in dim light) and moving the page to keep up with the moving text.  I can teach senior Mathematics, but when Prue denied me my strategies I couldn't count a row of squares.  I left Prue with two overlays – grey over blue – a referral to Mark Eagle and huge sense of relief.  Finally someone understood what was happening to me!

The overlays hade a big difference when I was reading, but weren't enough in a busy classroom.  I moved the furniture, turned the lights out and started printing all my notes (and assessments) on blue paper.  Most of my students were happy to humour me and go along with the “experiment”.   I couldn't wait to meet Mark and try out the lenses.

My new glasses arrived on my birthday – the best birthday present ever!  My lenses are dark blue/grey; a combination of three of Mark's test lenses.  They look like Transitions lenses so most people think I've just been out in the sun.  They have made everything easier: I can concentrate longer – I finished the last set of marking and reports in record time; I don't have trouble watching TV late at night anymore; no more headaches when I work at a computer for extended periods.  I wear my glasses almost all the time.  As if it's not enough that I'm happy – a lot of students like the blue test papers and several regularly borrow my overlays when they come to Maths. 

Thanks to the team at Vision Link, and to Mark, Prue and Karen.  These few words can't begin to explain the effect you have had on my world. 

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to add to your website.


Dawn Russell – Teacher, Feilding          18th October 2011

Jess Sandbrooke (Dylan's Mum)'s testimonial about their journey to help Dylan  - Dylan is 7.

Ask the right questions. Get the right answer.

When my son started school he had no previous interest in writing his name or reading which didn't bother us much because we felt that he would get into these aspects of learning alongside his peers at school. We are biased but feel that Dylan is very capable intellectually and were not concerned that he would struggle at school. As this was our first experience of schooling we took it in our stride. Dylan did fine in his first six months and brought reading books home which he read to us, sometimes ok but mostly struggling to finish. We alternated between cajoling and ordering him to read and we all looked forward to the holidays and no homework.

In Dylan's second year at school (year 1) he struggled even more and homework was painful and frustrating at best. He was doing well in maths however and discussions with older wiser mums said that sometimes boys just take longer to get reading / writing. "It's a common boy thing" was the reassuring message.

Towards the end of term one Dylan's teacher spoke to me about her concerns with his reading and that he was not progressing well. She also mentioned that he told her the words 'move on the page' and suggested that an eye test would be a good start to check that there was nothing wrong with his sight. I asked her if there was anyone she could recommend for testing children and she gave me the name of an optometrist in Napier who was good with children.

On the phone to the optometrist I asked him if what he did was equivalent to behavioural optometry because a friend had mentioned a really good behavioural optometrist in Hastings a year before. The reply was that there was nothing different between what they would do and what he would do which I accepted. During the eye test I explained that Dylan reported words moving on the page and he often missed the start of lines when reading, this was something that my husband told me he also finds difficult. The optometrist's report was that Dylan's eyesight was excellent in fact better than average. The reply to his reading issues was that his co-ordination was 'junk' and that he just needed to work out his words. I was relieved that there was nothing wrong with Dylan's eyes but felt puzzled because I think that Dylan is quite co-ordinated and intelligent enough to work out his words. I also felt awful because Dylan thought he was going to get glasses and would be able to read better. "Does this mean it's not going to be any easier to read mum?" "You are just going to have to try harder love" I replied.

Dylan was put into a reading recovery programme at school and the 1:1 teaching really helped him to progress and by the end of Year 1 he was reading at level 18 which was great. The home work was still a struggle and I would get very frustrated with Dylan and his Dad had to do homework with him because he managed to stay calmer than me. Dylan just didn't seem to be able to stay on task, and reading a small book took 30 minutes.

At the start of year 2 I explained to Dylan's new teacher that he had some reading problems and that I was concerned about how he would go this year. I was quite relieved to find that she had been a reading recovery teacher as I felt Dylan still needed help.

It became obvious after three weeks that Dylan wasn't doing well again, his testing put him back down at a level 15 for reading and his spelling was terrible getting 2-3/10 each week. One day Dylan burst into tears when his teacher asked him to read to her. This was upsetting and demoralising for Dylan and myself. I started to think there MUST be something more going on. I mentioned that he had already had an eye test that was fine, but that he had reported the words moving on the page which was odd. He also still got confused with b and d often and missed out words and missed lines when reading. I asked the teacher what she knew about behavioural optometry. She mentioned she had seen children with blue glasses which seemed to work and that it was worth following up. Blue glasses sounded weird to me but at least the idea of behavioural optometry was positive.

.................... I got home and onto the internet that night and I looked up 'behavioural optometry Hastings' and found Vision Link which is attached to Visique Shattky. I requested an info pack via email and when I received it there was a brochure about Irlen Syndrome in it. There was a check list in it identifying symptoms of Irlen syndrome and as a read it I mentally ticked all of them. I showed my husband the list and he agreed with me it seemed very applicable to Dylan so I arranged an appointment for a screening test.

The staff at Vision Link were very friendly and as the screener talked to Dylan and asked him questions it became obvious they were the right questions. I am a children's nurse and I believe it is vital to listen to kids when they tell you what they are feeling. The tricky part is asking the right questions to get the information to be helpful. I felt so relieved that someone was able to find out what the problem was so we could find a solution. At the end of the session we left with a clear blue plastic sheet for Dylan to read through. I thought 'this can't be so simple but I'll give it a go".

When we got home my husband was reading the newspaper. I put the blue sheet in front of him and said what do you think? "It makes a big difference hey?" he replied.

"No" I said "it doesn't do anything for me". Suddenly I realised why my husband doesn't like to read for pleasure, (which never made sense to me) he has the same thing as Dylan. I was pretty convinced after Dylan's screening that we were on the right track but this confirmed everything for me. It's funny how it is so much easier to believe an adult even though Dylan had been telling us everything we needed to know already.

Things changed overnight for us.

Suddenly we were treating Dylan differently because we realised he had a reading problem, he wasn't misbehaving. He improved at school markedly using the blue sheet and since he got his Irlen blue lens glasses he has been doing great. His spelling is averaging 8-10/10, his reading is much easier and faster and he is enjoying these activities so much more.

I am so glad we took this path and looked into behavioural optometry. It makes me frustrated that the first optometrist didn't suggest it after he found nothing wrong with Dylan's sight.

The thing with Irlen Syndrome is it's not the eye that is the issue it's the nerve that takes the message to the brain and how the brain works out what the nerve is showing it. You can have perfect eyesight but still have a vision problem. Dylan is proof of this.

Dylan has had his glasses for about 3 months now and wears them in the classroom and for homework. It turns out he did need glasses and they do make reading so much easier! 

Jess Sandbrooke.       10th August 2011


Paul Surgenor writes about his 10 year old daughter Siobhan.

Dad says:It is wonderful to see Siobhan just picking up a book and start reading because she wants to and is able to do so.

Siobhan says:  I can now read chapter books, I don't need the pictures anymore.

We both say: Thank you for allowing Siobhan to discover the joy in books and to be able to concentrate for longer periods.

Dad says:   It is hard to convey in a brief way just the sheer joy I get from watching my little girl going from struggling to read for more than three minutes at a time to wanting to lie on the floor reading poems and stories more in keeping with her age for 30 minutes without being told to and showing her delight in being able to do so.

Thank you to both you and Mark, for opening our eyes to this option to assist her ADHD.

Paul Surgenor         Waipukurau                 2nd August 2011

Eileen Collins writes about Sean, her 10 year old son.

Sean had found it very hard to read smaller writing and keeping on the correct line was difficult. Headaches were a daily problem especially at school. He used to HATE reading in public and was often told by teachers to stop mumbling.He would also have to shift his eyes in order to refocus. He began wearing prescription lenses with very little effect.

I was a little sad to sit with him and hear him describe how he sees things, when we visited the Irlen Screener in Napier. I also wondered how he would cope with wearing coloured filters and if he would get bullied. I needn't have worried! His answer to everyone was that he liked them and once the initial questions from friends were all answered they became a non-issue.

Sean's teacher cleverly suggested that he give a class presentation on his first day back at school. The affect on his reading and general confidence was immediate and surprising (considering I had already been through the same with my daughter). Sean's reading improved rapidly which has affected his other school work.I don't understand totally how it works - only that it does.

Over the summer holidays I read every article I could get my hands on concerning Irlen filters. I would love to see Irlen screening available in all schools so that other children could benefit in the way that two of my children have. I was a Teacher Aide for about six years and I have often wondered how many of the children being taken out of class for remedial reading could have benefited from Irlen filters.

If you are worried as a parent and your optician is not supportive when you mention Irlen, please do not let that put you off. I spent a year in the indecisive stage with my daughter - doing eye exercises and going to and from the hospital. I was blown away by the immediate and obvious progress when she got her filters. I am the proud mother of three gorgeous, intelligent children - two of whom wear funky coloured lenses. There is now brighter and rose coloured for all of us.

I am more than happy to talk to any parents that want to discuss this further and what might be available for them beyond primary school.


Eileen           6th July 2011

Sandra Fannin writes about Kate, her 9 year old daughter.

Thank you so much for the help you gave to Kate. We have a new girl; the Irlen lenses are really making a huge difference to her. We are finding that she is so much calmer and is wearing them almost all the time. School noticed that if she took them off during lunch and play times it took her some time to calm and refocus so we are trying to see if there is a difference if she wears the Irlen glasses to and from school as well.

There has been a significant change in her learning and her teacher was very iffy about them to start with. She did a reading test on Kate last week, and got such an amazing result that she tested her twice thinking that she had done something wrong the first time!! So thank you so much to Mark and the team for changing our world.

Sandra Fannin, Taihape.          29th June 2011

Erica Anderson writes about her son Kyle.

The worst thing that any parent can see is their child in agony, but still trying to take part in everything.
Our son Kyle was diagnosed with migraines last year after being sent home from a school camp, repeatedly vomiting with yet another excruciating headache. The previous day he had participated in a 3 hour hike and had a bit of a late night. Kyle was trying to convince the teachers and ourselves that he would be fine to stay, he just did not want to miss out again.
We were desperate, Kyle was always exhausted, he was on adult doses of antihistamine, and his schooling was suffering. Three attempts had been made with extra tutoring to get him up to speed; Kyle was always behind where he should be. Three visits to the optometrist had shown no problems with his vision.

February this year we had Kyle screened for Irlen Syndrome. Sitting in on the screening I must admit I was very sceptical however as I watched I experienced a huge mixture of emotions, seeing for the first time the huge battle my son endured just to read a simple line of text..... And yes I had tears. After 45 minutes of testing Kyle was exhausted, his speech was fading and slurring, he was rubbing his eyes and constantly yawning, moving and scratching to ease the discomfort while still trying to concentrate. He was then told he could rest, yawning he lay his head down on the desk.
Kyle was then asked to look at the text again with the overlays in place, he looked at the page, sat bolt straight and read two lines of letters perfectly- his voice went up and his speech was clear and precise. I was amazed and yes I had tears.

From there we went to see a behavioural optometrist Mark Eagle where Kyle was able to choose the filter colour that best suited him (purple). As he was trying the filters and got to the colour that suited his needs he actually got so engrossed in what he was reading he seemed to forget about us, My Husband Steve and I were told that Kyle didn't have a focus problem, he had Irlen Syndrome.
Kyle has now had his Glasses for 6 weeks and looking back, he was constantly lethargic, suffered form 2-3 migraines per week and would get ½ his allotted homework done each week (with a great deal of persuasion) if we had a busy week his weekend would be spent on the couch recovering.
Now Kyle has had 1 headache in 5 weeks, he can do 1- 1 ½ hours homework a day no problem. He is happy in the mornings; his health is improving, cutting down on his use of antihistamine. His appetite has increased and he is gaining weight. We are seeing an artistic side emerge as well as discovering a wicked sense of humour. Kyle has this week come home from a 4 day comp in which he did a couple of 4 hour hikes, mountain biking, swimming, rock climbing and a master chef bake off (coming 2nd with carrot waffles). It was full on to say the least he still has more gas in the tank and is HAPPY!!!!!!!

To see Kyle thriving after all these years is the most precious gift. We were lucky for the fact that he was not too far behind, however the effort that Kyle was having to put in to keeping himself at that level was obviously taking a huge toll on his body and we are in complete awe of him and a bit proud.
It does make me wonder how many children are out there struggling each day as our boy was. My hope is that they too will receive help and they can then begin to live and thrive as well.

Thank you for listening to our story........

Erica, Steve and Kyle Anderson from Marton, NZ.      7th May 2011

Belinda Watson writes about her son Ricky.

27th April 2011

Click here to watch Belinda Watson talk about her son Ricky's story on video

My son Ricky had just finished year 3 & informed me that his eyes were not right. I replied with "What do you mean?" He said that the words were swirling around the page and moving off the page. I thought not too much at the time and thought I'd start a new year and see how he went. He started into his new year 4 class and we went from a happy child to a child with such low self esteem. I hit a wall the day he didn't want to walk into school. He would often come home and say "Mum the teacher makes me go too fast and I just can't keep up!" So that is when I decided to make an appointment with Visique Shattky on Russell.

I had Ricky's eyes tested with Tim Eagle who suspected Ricky to have what he called Irlen Syndrome. (I, by the way had never heard of it.) We then organized an Irlen screening to be done with Maree Gallagher to assess weather he did in fact fall into the category of Irlen. Maree tested Ricky thoroughly and he definitely showed signs of Irlen, we then organized another visit for more intensive diagnosis with Mark Eagle.

Mark assessed Ricky and we went through a number of different coloured lenses but Ricky at this time couldn't see that the lenses did much for him and we left with just a blue overlay. I cut the overlay in half and had 1 at home and 1 at school. Ricky used this everyday and each day started to realize how much it was changing the way he saw his words when reading. He eventually came to me and asked if we could go back and see Mark to reassess having lenses made for him.

On 15th July 2010 Ricky walked out with his new glasses and the transformation in him has been amazing.

Before getting glasses Ricky never wanted to read books or anything for that matter, reading was just too hard! Every day since getting the glasses we have watched Ricky grow, he's moved from not wanting to read to actually picking up a chapter book and giving it a go. He read his first chapter book all the way through about 2 months ago and we were so proud of him, I never thought I'd see that. If Ricky leaves his glasses at school we can still practice reading at home using the overlays, Ricky will not try to read without the overlay or his glasses - they make such a drastic improvement and have boosted his confidence to great extremes.

Before going through this journey my son Ricky was an unhappy, angry, confused and very frustrated little boy who didn't want to go to school and felt like no one understood him. My advice to parents out there is to listen to your children, we as parents think that teachers will let us know if they are struggling but teachers have at least 30 other kids in their classes and don't always pick these problems up, then when it is noticed they are into high school and have missed those most important early years.

These particular kids are often labelled as naughty and you will often be told in parent teachers they need to knuckle down, it is so sad. I can only say that it is a journey that has had it's downs, but now we are at the other side it has been so worthwhile. Making the decision to visit Visique Shattky on Russell was, to be honest, a life changing decision for Ricky because I would hate to think what road we could have travelled down!

I would personally like to thank Tim Eagle, Maree Gallagher and especially Mark Eagle for all they have done for Ricky, I think the work they are doing to change the way these kids see the world is amazing.

Thank you so, so much.

Belinda Watson - Mother Of Ricky Watson.

Suzette writes about her son Jaimz.

20th April 2011

My son has been using the Irlen lenses for some time now and by using them they have helped him develop better concentration when he is reading, he shows more interest in reading, viewing the whiteboard in classis a lot easier for him and the added bonus is that they look very trendy too!


From a teacher based in Dannevirke.

24th March 2011

Before I heard about the irlen Syndrome, I thought everybody perceived the page like I did; with letters flickering and the glare of the white paper almost blinding.
It was a great relief to find out it wasn't so. The Irlen lenses have made a significant difference to me. I wear them for reading and also for driving.
I found the team at Shattkys / Visionlink Optometrists very helpful and professional.

Elisabeth Mikkelsen, teacher, Dannevirke.

Charlotte Hawtin.

February 2011

I spent years reading books easily when I was younger, understanding the words but never reading the books as fast as others. When I reached high school it became more obvious my reading was slow and I lost confidence and no longer read, and when I did read I had to read large print. After being screened for Irlen Syndrome I have received my Irlen glasses and I have found reading to be easier and I am surprised I managed to do as well as I did at school. I am now back to reading small print confidently and I am enjoying the positive difference.

Charlotte Hawtin, Havelock North.

Roberta Otis writes about her son Gabriel.

February 2011

When my son Gabriel was 5 years old, he was placed in the gifted programme at school. He is a bright child, very verbal and keen on learning. When he was about 9 years old we noticed that there was a big difference between the kinds of books he enjoyed and the kinds of books he has the ability to read. He has always loved books, but only if someone could read to him. His tastes run from "To Kill a Mockingbird" to a "A Single Shard" to biographies of political figures! But he was never able to read these types of books for himself. At first, we thought that he was just a lazy reader. We soon realized that he was having trouble with all types of reading. He wouldn't read long signs, instructions, or the board at school..... This problem began to affect his school work. When we took him to a tutor, she suggested that may need to be tested for Irlen Syndrome.

After receiving his Irlen Glasses ( purple lenses!) his reading has really taken off. he reads for longer periods, and is now able to read the kinds of books he enjoys. Gabriel says his eyes don't hurt anymore and that he is doing better at school. It is a joy to us that Gabriel can now read for pleasure.

Roberta Otis ( Gabriel's Mum).