The Irlen Method and the efficacy of coloured overlays and coloured lenses has been the subject of over 100 research studies encompassing the disciplines of education, psychology, and medicine. To date, more than 60 of these studies supporting the use of coloured overlays and lenses to treat the perceptual processing difficulties associated with Irlen Syndrome are published in peer-reviewed academic and scientific journals, including the Journal of Learning Disabilities, Australian Journal of Special Education, Perceptual and Motor Skills, Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, Journal of Research in Reading, and Behavioral Optometry among others.

See a list of related journal articles

A recent review of 62 studies published in peer-reviewed journals found 56 studies with positive findings, 45 with positive results for particular reading skills, and 11 showing improvements in accommodation facility, eye movements while reading, and reduced headaches/migraine.

Independent research projects are ongoing at various universities in the United States, England, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, and New Zealand.

Coloured overlays are considered an approved accommodation for standardised tests by many states including California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

Incidence of Irlen Syndrome in the Population

Incidence studies suggest that 46% of those with identified with reading problems, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, or learning difficulties suffer from Irlen Syndrome and can be helped by the Irlen Method. Sometimes the Irlen Method is the only solution needed, but more often, the Irlen Syndrome is just one layer of the individual’s problems, and the Irlen Method can be one piece of the solution puzzle. This method does not replace the need for instruction, remediation, or medical intervention.

The Irlen Method in the Education System and Government Support

There are presently over 7,000 educators trained as Irlen screeners, many of whom work within school districts in the United States and over seas. Over 100,000 adults and children wear Irlen Filters and millions of individuals are using Irlen Coloured Overlays. Massachusetts and Oregon have bills pending to require screening for Irlen Syndrome in all schools in these states. Alabama has recognised Irlen Syndrome/Scotopic Sensitivity as a learning disability and all recommendations including the use of Coloured Filters must be allowed. The Medical Research Council at Cambridge University, Visual Perception Unit of Essex University in England, University Laboratory of Physiology at Oxford University, and Newcastle University in Australia have extensively researched and published studies on coloured overlays and Coloured Filters.

Brain Research

Brain research at the cellular level has provided new information regarding the operation of the visual pathways in dyslexics as opposed to normal readers and provides a plausible explanation for the demonstrated effectiveness of Irlen Filters and coloured overlays. Brain studies conducted at the Amen Clinic and the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, show that colour helps to balance brain functioning and that the Irlen effect is real.

For example:

SPECT scan by Daniel Amen M.D below shows:

  • Brain is over stimulated especially when reading
  • Brain is in overdrive => using a larger area, working much harder
  • Unable to cope with black/white contrast
Irlen brain without filters
irlen brain without filters

Irlen brain with filters
irlen brain with filters
The Irlen Filters calm and normalise the activity

See more Brain Research

Agencies Officially Recognising the Irlen Method

The following are a sampling of agencies which have officially recognised the Irlen Method: Recording for the Blind, SAT, ACT, LSAT, Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services, Indiana Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Michigan Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Texas Commission for the Blind, Nevada Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and Wisconsin Vocational Rehabilitation.

In Australia, the following are a sampling of agencies which have officially recognised the Irlen Method: Department of Employment, Education & Training, Departments of Army, Navy and Air Force, Board of Studies-NSW, Board of Secondary Education-WA, Department of Children’s Services-WA, Commonwealth Employment Service (CES), Department of Rehabilitation, and Technical and Further Education (TAFE).

Headaches and Migraine Research and the Irlen Method

Research has just begun to show the connection between headaches and migraines and the Irlen Method. For individuals whose headaches or migraines are caused by light sensitivity, the Irlen Method can make a big difference.

See more headache and migraine research

Traumatic Head Injuries

This research highlights two things. First, the use of colour to treat light-based sensitivities, physical discomfort, and perceptual difficulties in the environment and on the printed page is not restricted to those who have inherited difficulties. This technique is also effective for those whose difficulties are acquired through TBI.

See more TBI research

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