Irlen Syndrome is a specific type of perceptual problem.


People with Irlen Syndrome may suffer from a range of distortions. These may be on the page, computer and white boards when trying to read but they may also be in the environment.

Distortions on the page include:

  • Words moving in various ways
  • Words fading, disappearing, swirling and blurring
  • Coloured patterns and shapes which can move
  • The white of the page dominating, pulsating, moving
  • Flickering or flashing lights
  • White patterns and shapes which can move
  • Problems with white and/or coloured patterns and shapes
  • Sparkles & auras around words and images
  • Letters and words floating, changing size, going 3D, fading
  • Words merging or having too much space
  • Lines of words waving

You can see below some examples of distortions on the printed page that are experienced by people with Irlen Syndrome.

(c) 1991. This material was reproduced from Reading by the Colors by Helen Irlen, Penguin Putnam/Perigee Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Distortions in the environment include:

  • Lack of perspective and depth
  • Blurriness
  • Objects moving in various ways
  • Glare and brightness from certain colours
  • Patterns moving, blurring, changing
  • Glare and light shining off objects
  • Sparkles and auras around objects
  • Difficulty judging distances, heights and speeds
  • Auras and after effects with moving objects

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