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Do you lose your place while reading?

by Dr. Stanford A. Owen

You may have Irlen Syndrome if:

  • You skip words or lines when reading and often re-read lines.
  • Words seem to “move,” dance, or dropout while reading.
  • You lose your place when reading and are easily distracted.
  • You have to take frequent reading breaks.
  • Bright lights cause headache or make you irritated when reading.
  • You prefer dim light, blink or squint, read up-close or use a finger to read.
  • A reading task produces anxiety, rapid heart rate, trouble sleeping, depression, and headaches.

Many patients with ADD have Irlen Syndrome, a disorder with an easy, permanent, and riskless treatment.

Also known as scotopic (light) sensitivity, Irlen Syndrome is triggered by components of light, such as fluorescent lighting, reflection, glare, intensity, brightness, wavelength (i.g., color), and/or color contrast. As a result, the person may experience:

  • Light sensitivity: bothered by brightness, glare, types of lighting.
  • Inefficient reading: letters on page move, dance, vibrate, and jiggle.
  • Restricted recognition: difficulty reading groups of letters.
  • Tunnel vision: difficulty seeing if not close to center of view.
  • Lack of sustained attention: difficulty maintaining attention.

The high contrast between black print on a white background provides excessive stimulation to the visual system and thus interferes with the reading process.

Helen Irlen developed effective methods for determining if a person suffers from Scotopic Sensitivity/Irlen Syndrome. She has also designed a standardized set of procedures that determine the correct lens color prescription.

One patient improved his medical school entrance test results by 30 percent by using an Irlen filter. An 8-year-old, assigned to special education classes, immediately read perfectly for the first time after being prescribed lenses, leaving everyone in the room (parents and testers) crying with joy. He is no longer in special ed.

Using a combined approach with questionnaires, neurocognitive computer tests, brain imaging scans (when necessary), prescriptive supplements, diet, medication, and Irlen lenses, patients are able to achieve much greater improvement than by just prescribing a pill, as is the custom in ADD treatment.

Dr. Owen of ADD Clinics of Mississippi is Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists, and the Neuroscience Education Institute, as a Master Psychopharmacologist. He is an elected Fellow of the Obesity Society. Reach him at (228) 864- 9669 or by email at

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