Stress, anxiety and depression caused by Irlen syndrome can lead to personal misery, breakdown in relationships and loss of productivity and absentee-ism in the workplace.
"Counsellors see many people with free floating anxiety, lack of confidence and general misery.
Few consider anything else but an emotional etymology. Certainly nothing as mundane as a fluorescent light! But this is the story. For an unknown (but probably large) proportion of people, there is something called Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome — which is a perceptual processing problem involving difficulties with light sensitivity.
These individuals then, can’t see print clearly, whether in words, numbers, or musical and mathematical notation. They can’t focus or maintain reading without an inordinate amount of energy and effort. It seems blurred or the white page seems to blot out the black letters. The result can be measured in headaches, migraine, nausea, blinking, squinting, fatigue and de-motivation. Very often children will not know that things can be any different but adults have usually developed a set of survival strategies — one of which is to avoid reading altogether. Sometimes depth perception is affected making car driving dangerous (now that’s a good excuse for the latest dent) sports performance erratic and writing poor. There is a characteristic reading pattern, such as slow and hesitant reading, misreading words, skipping lines or continually reading the same line, inability to read continuously and poor comprehension of what is read.
The affected individual searches for an explanation — and comes up with anything from laziness, carelessness and stupidity to personality or psychosomatic problems. They will try ‘cures’ from diet to acupuncture and anti-depressants. But they STILL won’t be able to concentrate on reading They may go on literacy, speed reading and comprehension courses. And since that won’t help either the individual sinks deeper into helplessness and anxiety. The headaches continue. Motivation, energy, work production and social contacts decrease. A person who can’t become a fluent confident reader is not likely to be a confident adult and more help that doesn’t work makes a more miserable, anxious and dull individual who knows there is something wrong but doesn’t know what it is. They blame themselves for not trying harder. They can’t do what others can so easily and yet they’re pretty sure they’re not stupid! ‘I’m not am I?’ is the implicit question they bring to the counsellor’s consulting room. How gratefully they will accept their oedipal conflicts or traumatic 5th birthday party as a cause.
Therapy may help their anxiety but not their reading and concentration.
So what can help? Avoiding fluorescent lighting for a start, but coloured lenses and overlays will block out the light frequency that causes difficulties in perception. And that stops the headaches and restores normal concentration. Lives can be transformed in the time it takes to put on a pair of these spectacles. Information about testing for Irlen syndrome can be sought from an Irlen Centre", Dr Beverley Steffert
With Irlen Lenses benefits can include:
- A feeling of well-being
- Improved self-esteem
- Increased confidence
- Better social interaction
Disability awareness training and advice in relation to Irlen sufferers is available from Irlen East to employers, union repesentatives, human resources personnel and health and safety officers.
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