Special Needs Resource and Training Blog

Online Resources and Training Information on Special Needs and Developmental Disability Topics

Meares-Irlen Syndrome

Meares-Irlen Syndrome is a  perceptual processing disorder and a form of visual stress which leads to difficulty in reading. 50 percent of people with dyslexia are affected. This also impacts people with migraines and epilepsy.

Other Known Names

  • Irlen Symptom
  • Visual Stress
  • Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome


  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Poor depth-perception
  • Discomfort in presence of fluorescent lighting
  • Discomfort with busy patterns
  • Writing problems
  • reading Difficulty
  • Attention and Concentration Limitations
  • Distortions

When reading, words may appear to:

  • Jump off the page
  • Spin and move around

What Meares-Irlen Syndrome Looks Like

Helping a Child with Meares-Irlen Syndrome

According to Helen Irlen, founder of the Irlen method, the following techniques should be used in helping a children diagnosed with Meares-Irlen Syndrome:

  • Copy tests, handouts, and assignments on colored paper or recycled paper.
  • Do written work on colored notebook paper.
  • Place reading material on angle or use a bookstand to reduce glare.
  • Allow students to sit near a window or indirect lighting.
  • Allow students to use a finger or marker.
  • Use graph paper for math.
  • Write in columns on the board.
  • Use gray or brown erase boards and avoid white boards.
  • Use a colored overlay on the overhead projector.
  • Xerox tests on colored paper.

At home:

  • Let your child work in a dimly lit room.
  • Allow the child to do work near a window or indirect natural lighting.
  • Have the child wear a hat when outside or in stores.
  • Change the background color of the computer screen.
  • Use Irlen colored overlays for reading and the same colored paper for assignments.
  • Let the child watch TV in a dimly lit room.
  • Avoid using bright colors, stripes, and patterns on the walls, floors, or furniture.

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