Irlen Syndrome

Irlen Syndrome is an issue with the brain’s ability to process what the eyes are seeing


What is Irlens?

Referred to as a ‘perceptual processing disorder’ it is not an optical problem nor is it the same as dyslexia as is commonly thought.

Put simply, Irlens is when the brain processes visual information slower than the eyes are seeing it. A good example is: If the brain was a radio, there would be considerable static interfering with the reception of the station you were trying to listen too.

The eyes transmit up to 80 percent of the information an individual needs to function in any given environment - so any problems in the interpretation of such information can cause lifelong difficulties if Irlens is not identified as the cause.

Irlen Symptoms

Moving or distorting words while reading can be a common symptom of Irlen Syndrome

So, how do I know if my child needs to be screened?

Irlens can run in families and is pinpointed via screening by a registered Irlens assessor. The great news is - at OCULA, being a registered Irlens assessor is only one of the many tools in our toolkit, so to speak.

When seeing your child for a possible Irlens diagnosis they will also undergo a full comprehensive visual assessment by our behavioural optometrist who will not only test their vision but check how healthy their eyes are and how they make sense of what they see. So, whether your child actually does have Irlens or something different - we have the experience and knowledge to help.

Learn more about our assessments

Irlens can be hard to pick-up, is often misdiagnosed and can run alongside other visual and behavioural issues. Symptoms range from poor handwriting and slow reading to obvious depth perception issues (often falling, banging into things) light sensitivity, fatigue and inability to concentrate.

We also recognise that every child needs a different approach, so we work with a close network of educational psychologists, doctors, health care professionals, speech language therapists and occupational therapists to build a management plan tailor-made for your child's specific situation.

Download more info about Irlens

What does a screening look like?

The assessment will take place over 45-60 minutes and encompasses a full eye exam, followed by specific testing that also looks at:

Difficulties in learning

Sustained attention

Depth perception

The ability for eyes to track a moving object

That both eyes can focus clearly for reading

Reading speed

Colour preference

Light sensitivity

What happens after a screening?

If there is suspicion of Irlen Syndrome, you will be referred for an Irlen Diagnostic assessment. A diagnostic assessment only be conducted by a registered Irlen Diagnostician who is qualified to prescribe treatment for Irlen Syndrome.

What is an Irlen diagnostic assessment?

This assessment involves finding the unique tint/lens colour that works to filter out the wavelengths of light that are causing the various effects on the visual processing system. 

Each person will require a different unique colour tint due to the way in which Irlen affects each individual. The filtering of the certain wavelengths of light through the use of colour are proven to help improve and combat the various physical symptoms that Irlens causes

At OCULA, our registered Irlen Diagnostician, Taryn Johnn, is available for bookings for this assessment at OCULA Wanaka and Queenstown. 


This is great - but where to from here?

You don’t need a referral to see us - just get in touch with our expert team to set up an appointment.

*Please note bookings can be made online for Irlen Screening, however Irlen Diagnostic assessments must be booked via phone. This is to ensure enough time is available for each individuals needs.

OCULA Wanaka: 03 443 5103

OCULA Queenstown: 03 441 4318