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What is Meares-Irlen syndrome?

What is Meares-Irlen syndrome?

Simply explained, Meares-Irlen syndrome (MIS) is characterised by symptoms of visual stress and visual perceptual distortions when looking at patterns, particularly stripes.  Such symptoms can occur despite normal vision.  For those who have symptoms of MIS, pages of print can resemble a visually stressful pattern making it uncomfortable to look at.

Symptoms of MIS include:-

  • Movement of print
  • Blurring of print
  • Letters changing size or shape
  • Letters fading or becoming darker
  • Patterns in the print (sometimes described as rivers or worms)
  • Illusions of colour surrounding letters or words
  • Tiring easily while reading
  • Red, sore, watery eyes
  • Headaches or visual discomfort

Signs of MIS include:-

  • Moving closer to or further away from the book
  • Restlessness while reading
  • Using finger to track words while reading
  • Skipping words or lines
  • Re-reading the same line
  • Rubbing eyes or blinking frequently while reading
  • Poor comprehension of reading content
  • Frustration and low self-esteem

Symptoms of MIS are not always immediately obvious.  Many individuals who suffer from MIS assume that their symptoms are quite “normal”. Unfortunately many of these symptoms can be caused by other problems such as eye strain. This is the reason a thorough detailed examination by a behavioural optometrist is critical before an assessment for MIS can be made.

Visual perceptual problems which affect reading skills can also be caused by this condition.   MIS is found to exist in many conditions including photosensitive migraine, photosensitive epilepsy and dyslexia.

How can you find out more?

Firstly you need to have a thorough eye examination, during the test we will screen for Meares-Irlen syndrome. If your results are positive we will then complete an overlay and colorimetry assessment (at a second appointment). If it is found that a colour helps to reduce or relieve your symptoms we can then either prescribe an overlay or coloured lenses.