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Irlen Syndrome Interventions

Irlen Syndrome, otherwise known as Scotopic Sensistivity Syndrome, is a sensitivity to color contrasts and acutely impacts an affected person's ability to read, where stark black letters on a white page can render the text nearly unreadable.  Our previous blog described the history of Irlen Syndrome.  Here we will discuss the various options to address it.

Irlen Filter Overlays

Irlen Syndrome is primarily addressed through colored filters (or "overlays"), glasses with tinted lenses, and through software applications.  Testing is done by a trained Screener or Diagnostician to first determine if you have this condition, then to specifically determine the color shades best suited for you.

It is important to note that the appropriate color tint for an individual is unique.  What works for one person, may not do the job for another.  Trained Screeners can help you determine the best overlay color while a Diagnostician is required to specify the lens color. Screenings take 60 to 90 minutes and may cost about $100.  Diagnostic evaluations take 2 to 4 hours and may cost about $300. You can find the closest tester and materials for sale at


Irlen filter overlay on paperOverlays are sturdy plastic sheets that are tinted to a specific color. Those sold through are sized at 9 x 12 inches and run $4.00 each or $38.50 for a 10-pack of assorted colors. Application is straight forward - lay the sheet over the printed text you wish to read. We have purchased the 10-pack and found the size to be too large for anything other than flat sheets of paper; however, they are easily trimmed to different sizes.  Once you know your color, we would recommend buying several and trimming them to the sizes of the books you wish to read.  Because the overlays are thin and about the size of paper, they are easy to slide into a backpack or brief case to take along with you.

Overlays are great for reading printed materials; however, they are not very useful for general viewing, reading non-printed text, and dealing with some of the depth-perception symptoms of Irlen Syndrome.  That's where the glasses come in.


Irlen glassesGlasses are what you would expect.  You can have prescription lenses tinted to the appropriate color with UV coating and scratch protection and costs similar to new prescription glasses (~$150).  Non-prescription tinted glasses or lenses can be purchased at considerably less cost (~$50).

Glasses are a good solution when symptoms negatively affect depth-perception (e.g., object distances, spatial relationship, three dimensional rendering).  An overlay only helps with reading printed text whereas glasses can be worn during all types of activities where regular eyeglasses are used. 

One thing to be aware of.  Because glasses deal with transmitted light and overlays with reflected light, the ideal tinting your glasses need may be different than for the overlays.


It seems that software would be an perfect way to apply color overlays - especially given the plethora or e-readers and reading applications; however, we have found this is not the case.  For example, iBook on the iPAD or the Kindle Fire offer only three choices for backgrounds (white, black, and sepia/beige).  Fonts can be changed and sized, but not the shade.  Digital Editions by Adobe has no choice for background color.  We have found some shareware overlay tools that attempt to shade the screen, but not very effectively.  We have also evaluated other reading assistive software products - many of which have the ability to change colors during playback - but often at fairly lofty prices and not with per user controls.

Open LORE Read Color ChooserAt Open LORE we made Irlen Syndrome one of our key design criteria. Users can set word, sentence, and page background colors independently as well as adjusting the shade of the font.  The system colors can be set for use in the library for reading book descriptions and the default colors for books.

Our color chooser provides quick selection of the standard overlay colors available from; however, you can also click the paint brush icon to select more colors or specify an exact RGB (Red-Green-Blue) value.  Four different font shades are offered to simulate different overlay opacity. Visual text tracking can also be turned off so only the page color and font shade are visible.

But Open LORE reading software offers more - each book can be adjusted for colors individually.  This means one reader can choose colors that work for them while another family member can be reading a different book with their unique colors.  The Read-To-Me feature can also be adjusted independently from the system and book settings. 

Open LORE Read Screen

With Open LORE reading software, we provide powerful accessibility features that help with Irlen Syndrome and other learning disabilities. These features are intentionally designed to be easily tuned to the preferences of every reader. Try out the Open LORE Read Free Trial today!

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