WE DO NOT “GROW OUT OF” IRLEN SYNDROME
A number of students who come to see us have been taken to an optometrist because of their reading problems. This is usually in response to teachers advising parents to get their eyes checked. Some of these children are given an optical prescription and unfortunately, this is where it stays for sometimes one or more years. Initially, there is an improvement, maybe because the prescription is for a small magnification which makes the letters look bigger and so, easier to see. We find it really sad however, when we have screened a child and found that they have the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome, have been given a specifically coloured overlay that has made it easier for them to read but when the parent takes them to have their vision checked by an optometrist, the optometrist tells them that they should just “try the prescription lenses for six months and then make a decision about getting the Irlen lenses”. The reality is, that the prescription lenses will not stop the words from moving, or fading, or shadowing and they will not stop the page from glowing or the words from merging together or stretching apart, and so, the child does not get the help that they need at that time, and sometimes we have parents ring us up years later, and tell us that their child had been found to have Irlen symptoms, but they didn’t bring them back for the lenses at the time, because they had been given prescription lenses and been advised to wait and see if things improve with just the prescription lenses. The unfortunate thing about this is, that the child is now years behind in their schoolwork, and so will take longer to catch up, and may never catch up on concepts that they have missed out on in their younger years at school. It really is important to know as a parent, that if your child has been identified with Irlen symptoms, even if not severe, those symptoms will not go away without the Irlen lenses or at least an overlay and coloured paper.