Irlen lenses? | Autism PDD


What are Irlen lenses? I have not heard of them before...Hi everyone,
Anyones child have  these prescribed?  Sharlet has a pair of purple sunglasses she likes to wear a lot and I have noticed (as has he autism consultant) an improvement in concentration and a decrease in sensory overload while she is wearing them.  I have an appointment for Sharlet with a doctor here who prescribes Irlen lenses and I'd like to know peoples experiences with them and also a ball park of how much they might have cost you.


In Massachusetts, if teachers are trained, children can be screened in school for free. To get the glasses, students would need to go to the Irlen Center in Medford. The center's executive director, Georgianna Saba, estimates that lenses cost 5 to 0 in consulting, lab, and lens fees.

My ds's ot uses an amber colored plexiglass sheet to calm him down. Just started with it but I had done it at home before she mentioned it. I think we will be getting the overlays.

all optometrists I have called here have heard of them.  I did find a list of Irlen diagnostic physicians around the globe.  I can't find it now unfortunately.  Sue Fricker is the name of the lady seeing Sharlet and she was on the list.  There were some in the states too.

I know a few autistic adults who use then.  Wendy Lawson for one.  I have heard they make a huge difference to the sensory experience in some cases and some individuals have excellent results. I think they could really help sharlet.

Hi I have heard of them. Donna Williams has mentioned them before(an adult with autism) Unfortunately my kids aren't verbal enough to be able to test for them. I do put sunglasses on them when we go shopping where there are lots of lights and it seems to help. I have read on Donna's blog that cheaper tinted glasses have worked well for her too(maybe check out her site(just google donna williams) She is Australian based. Good luck and keep us posted how it goes with the glasses. Liz

The closest I came to giving out lenses with color to autistic children were the transition lenses...and those only change colors outside...I live in a small city so even if this was a bigger thing, it always seems like our city either takes forever to find out about it or passes it up all together.

Keep us posted on how it goes...if they work well I might go into work and talk to some of the girls and tell them they should find out more about these.  I still seem some of the girls on a regular basis.

Good luck and I hope you get some good results!!

I had not heard of them, either. A brief googling session brought mostly
sources from austrailia and new zealand. Hmmm

I know some time ago, (90's?) there was an interest in some sort of colored
lens therapy for autism. It went out of favor, due to lack of any real results,
and research that backed that up. I wonder if these are related?

The Irlen lenses sound intersting, but I don't think they are well known here
in the US..


I was an optician before I decided to be a SAHM and I have never heard of them.  Sorry I can't help.I am interested in overlays too, thanks for the replies.

You can read about Irlen Syndrome (also called Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome) here:

This website includes:

- a 4-page checklist of various symptoms.  Most involve reading, but some are symptoms you would notice in a child.

- an international list of screeners

- link to an article by the Autism Society about use of transparencies and lenses.

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Irlen filters:

Good luck with this intervention.  Let us know how it goes!


Hi Allegra

we might be looking at Irlen lenses for our son. We have a friend whose daughter uses them and finds them helpful - she doesn't have autism though. Our son seems to like wearing sunglasses so when we heard of these we were interested but haven't yet followed up.

We are interested in anyone's experience with them.


Mine are violet 3

they turned me from prisoner who can't even walk through the world

into an explorer who has lost 5 jobs in 2 years!!!!

They help (remove symptoms of) 30% of ad(h)d persons

My training to become a screener cost 0 2 years ago (no need to learn this but if you can't find a screener, they are needed in your area). Screening is 0 and up. Non-verbal children ARE screenable but may need a diagnostician to do it.

The diagnosis was 0 and tinting about 0 with shipping. the lenses have to be specified materials to tint. Prices set by individual diagnosticians and probably vary by supply and demand laws.

I really want to hear more of how they help.

hey B9st8,

You say you were trained to become a screener for the colored lens treatments.  What exactly do you do to screen for this?  Is it just a matter of trying the different colored lenses?  Do you think the lens material is really important or will cheap colored glasses give the same result?

I tend to want to try everything that I think may help (non drug) but can not afford trips to drs. far from home, especially when they usually end up being a dead end.  We have been so disappointed everytime we go to the medical field.

Everywhere I look on the net, someone is trying to" sell" a cure.  If I knew the answer I would give it away!

There are screening questions for the person/parent to see if there maybe sensitivity to part of the visual spectrum. Depending on age, we use pictures and text to determine if there is actual visual difficulty. Then we test films over the page with various colors and dull or shiny sides. we find the best overlay(or none if this is found definitely not to be a problem). We go through the overlays again and a third or fourth layer if necessary for best clarity. The overlays can be taped together is multiple and used to read text. We write a report for the person/parent and send a copy to the 'Diagnostician' who would screen for lenses if desired or for cases that are not clear and need a more experienced person to evaluate.

Reading clarity was not my first concern with autistic children. I may still be on the wrong planet, but I can navigate it now. I also think I could have been able to learn more about emotions and non-verbal communication had I been able to see a coherent face/world. I am trying but still have prosopagnosia after 2 years. Maybe the face area of my brain finished and died. I wish all children could be screened in case it could make a huge difference.

Any tint may help some if the problem is there, but wrong tint can make it worse. If tint or less light helps, it would be worth pursuing. I used amber sunglasses alot. The same result? NO! but try it. I don't know what age, but some parents have mentioned being given glasses with different colors and letting the child pick what makes the world look better. a specific material is required if you get the tinted lenses. I am only licensed for age 8 and up. A diagnostician does the younger ones.  There will be a clear difference for the ages I screen or I don't recommend bothering. Follow-up check is recommended if it is iffy. 

Free down load i use to help on the computer: l Good for screen if it will help by using different text and background colors. It doesn't work here, but the blue background helps me some.

this site has tests and a few backgrounds to check: lots of other pages and links too

this is on the same site and specific to ASD with a light test for younger children:

Let me know if I can answer any other questions like after checking some of this out. Only 50% of ASD respond by their statistics. I just know how great it was for me.

I found we have 2 screeners in ND.....but now the weather has turned ugly so I won't be traveling any time real soon...bummer, I want to check this out, will use the online site linked to above.  thanks for you inputs this is so interesting!


btw, Sharlet's lenses are working well still and she lets us know when she needs them.  I also found out that I have Irlen syndrome in the process, and I am getting my lenses soon. (blue tint)

I just thought my eye problems were from poor vision and was used to the blurring and burning and pressure feeling and light sensitiveness.

my optometrist  I used to have said it was from the beginnings of glaucoma.
I'm using a blue overlay to read and for the first time ever it's less blurred and doesn't move about and my eyes burn less and I get less headaches!!!


new mail from my diagnstician that might express better than I:

I am forwarding a letter from one of my parents.
 I thought you would enjoy reading it. Susan

This is Teri writing to say THANK YOU!!!!!  I just wanted to write to
you and say thank you very much.  I received my glasses about two weeks
ago.  My life has changed since receiving them.  I did not realize what
a difference that they would make for me.  I had no idea how many of
my headaches were caused by not having my lenses. 
  I forgot to wear them to work about three days after receiving them.
  It was one of the worst days that I can remember.  I had a headache
almost immediately and was very cranky.  I will never forget them again.
  I just tried to copy something down off the computer without
them,silly me, and now my head hurts.  I truly didn't realize how much my life
could change.
  I now understand just how much these lenses have helped Katherine.  I
don't know how she can ever stand to be without them.  I knew that
they helped her with her school work, but I didn't realize just how much
they affected her everyday life.  I feel awful that she has ever had to
be without them.  She is so happy with her new lenses.
  Kat has become much more confident and relaxed since her lenses
arrived.  She is doing very well with her schooling and even made the honor
roll.  Thank you so much for everything that you do. 
  Kat recently had an accident with her glasses.  She put them in her
swim bag during practice, without a case, and they got stepped on.  The
lenses survived, the frames did not.  I called the place where we
bought the frames two years ago and they said tough luck, they can't be
  I then took the glasses to the eye department of walmart.  I showed
them to the lady and she smiled sympathetically.  She spent two hours
matching the lenses to every pair of frames that they had.  She finally
found a pair of safety frames that she took to a back room and worked
magic with.  She heated the frames so hot that she could mold them to the
lenses.  She basically created frames for Kat.  Katherine was only
without her glasses for about four hours.  We truly thank God for this
miracle.  The glasses aren't very cute, but Kat thinks they are wonderful.
  She realizes just how wonderful and important that they are.
  Many people have asked us about SSS and what it really is.  We always
answer to the best of our ability and direct them to the Irlen
website.  I was wondering if it is possible for you to send me a copy of your
brain pictures that you showed me when you were here.  I think that it
would be really helpful for so many people who won't look at the website.
  There are many skeptical people who would probably look at the
pictures if I could show them.
  Thank you so much for everything that you do.  I don't know what the
world would do without people like you.  Thank you and God Bless You!!

Thank you for that letter.  I have had a similar experience.  Cody refused to wear them for the longest time.  I didn't push it until one day he had a total melt down during homework.  I made him put them on.  He did his math homework in 15 minutes with no help.  I could auctually read his writing.  He also had 4 other homework items to do & finished them in less than 20 minutes, again with no help.  He now wears them all the time! Me too!
Thank you for everything!
Cheryl Klarenbach
b9st8 -- That light test for younger children looked really interesting.  Thanks for posting the link.


I am finding this information very interesting.  It brings up lots of new questions I am not sure my son can tell me if he experiences any of the distortions or not.  He often has trouble describing feelings, symptoms and such.  I will be trying this out though.  How great it would be if this was the answer to his attention and focus problems!!

How sad to think of all the people who have been drugged over the years who may have been helped by this!

Thanks again!


Hi bonnie

I think it's about a third of ADD that are significantly improved (not sure stronger claims allowed). It is much higher among delinquent juveniles presumably because having visual problems increases the risk. I am sure it is better to catch it younger. In my state, they are trying to get a law to screen for Irlen syndrome in third grade when learning problems often appear. That is when the print gets small.

It won't cure autism for sure, but improve function and comfort for many. I never knew that I saw any differenly than others. When I tested an 8 year old and laid the first overlay on the print, her jaw dropped and eyes got big. Even autistic me could read that expression. The mother was crying because her bright child could read again. i know there is controversy, yet when it works, there is no question. Just doesn't work for all. I hope it is valuable in your case.

 My diagnostician works on the Pacific coast mostly. If you are near there, she has a great interest in the autistic population and screens young/nonverbal children. It also runs in families. Do you have any trouble with bright lights, head aches or blurred vision? prefer sunglasses, squint alot?

well, good luck and let us know what you find.



My mother-in-law sells these overlays.

Not the lenses, though.

Little secret: they're not magical colors or magical space-age plastic materials or anything like that. They're just colored sheets, period. They cost like .50 a sheet. Seriously. Again, though, that's just for the overlays, not the glasses. Often, more than one color will work for an individual if it does work. But what she gears hers toward are specifically for reading issues (scoptic sensitivity syndrome, actually first coined by Irlen), not for autism.

She herself wears colored sunglasses but not Irlen lenses. One of the yellow colors worked well for her so she bought sunglasses that roughly matched that.