Formerly known as Scotopic Sensitivity, Irlen Syndrome (IS) is a type of perceptual/communicative disorder caused by improper processing of light waves between the optic nerve and the brain’s visual processing center. It is a complex and debilitating condition that creates visual distortions and prevents those who suffer from it from reading effectively, efficiently, or at all. It is often found to co-exist with other learning disabilities. IS has long baffled educators and medical scientists because it is undetected by standard visual, educational and medical exams.
Even though research has long documented the significance of visual processing, it has only been in recent years that the importance of perception in reading has been recognized. Irlen Syndrome is a visual perceptual dysfunction. It is not an optical problem. The problem lies in the brain, not the eye itself, and is the result of how the nervous system encodes and decodes visual information. A part of the Irlen sufferer’s brain has a difficult time processing a full spectrum of light on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. Scotopic Sensitivity is triggered by one or more components such as the source of the light (fluorescent lighting, sun), luminance (reflection, glare), intensity (brightness), wave-length (color), and/or color contrast.
Research has shown that Irlen Syndrome is fairly widespread and occurs as follows:
12 - 14% of general population
25 – 30% of individuals with Autism
30 – 35% of individuals with ADD/HD
46% of individuals with identified learning difficulties
Who is affected?
Irlen Syndrome is a hereditary condition often shared by several family members. It usually manifests in early childhood, particularly as a child begins to learn to read and write. However, Irlen Syndrome can be brought on at any age by a stroke or brain injury.
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