Dyslexia and Me: The Blue Screen and Irlen Lenses
I have discussed many times already the problems I have with my vision. I suffer from migraines when I am in an environment with fluorescent lights and when I have to read a lot. I have been told this is linked to Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome or Irlen Syndrome but have been told by specialists that Irlen Lenses would be of no help to me.
I actually find it worrying that when I mention this topic at all while looking for alternatives to help me and others like me just how aggressive people get in trying to push Irlen Lenses on me. So before I go any further, this is where I will place semi ‘warning’. Before anyone responds to this post please read ALL that is said on the reasons WHY I’ve been told they would be of no benefit to me.
Let me start from the very beginning and get to where I am now in regards to my vision. Hopefully someone will have another idea on where to go next that isn’t Irlen Lenses.
When I was in high school, they refused to send me for a dyslexia assessment. Instead, I was told I had Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome which was why I was struggling with reading and why I was so slow compared to my non-dyslexic peers. After trying out various overlays I found that the Rose colour worked best for me.
Off I went to school everyday with this Rose coloured plastic sheet to put over any books or papers I had to read. It wasn’t very convenient as it was A4 and got bashed to bits! However, it did make my life a fraction easier than before. It didn’t help with being tormented at school, but that is a different story. All my exams were printed on Rose paper and I was given extra time in exams to reflect on my slow reading. I was told then by the learning support teacher that Irlen Lenses would not be advisable as she was unsure if I would continue to find Rose a useful colour and they were expensive if they didn’t work for me.
After I left school and went to college. Sure enough, the Rose overlays had done their time and I no longer found them useful. My eyes had adjusted to them and found it just as hard as reading off of white paper. Another learning support expert at college assessed me and pointed out that I may indeed have dyslexia. He also warned that with my change in colour from Rose to Purple, Irlen Lenses would be of little use and were expensive.
When I finally went back to college in my mid-twenties, I was finally diagnosed as dyslexic. I discussed Irlen Lenses again with the educational psychologist and with the learning support lady at college. My colour had now changed from Purple through Yellow and Aqua to Orange. Again, with so many colour changes I was advised they would be expensive if my colour kept changing so rapidly, so I was given an Orange overlay which lasted me through university.
Equipped with my Orange overlay, I went to university where I was once again assessed on my needs by another learning support and advised once again against Irlen Lenses. She had given them to others who she felt WOULD benefit, but suggested that from the changes in colour I had gone through, she wouldn’t recommend them for me. Instead I was given more Orange overlays and a packet of multicoloured Reading Rulers plus ClaroView on my laptop to help with reading on the computer screen. Over the four years at university I found that warm colours worked better on paper and cold colours on-screen.
During university I suffered a lot from migraines. I had my laptop with a Blue screen, my sunglasses on and the brightness of the screen turned down. When it came to my dissertation, I had to take a full day off of work because my eyes hurt so much. I couldn’t sleep properly because the muscles in my eyes couldn’t relax properly. I’ve never had so much pain or strain in my eyes as I had in the week my dissertation was due.
After I left university I went to an optician who said he specialised in glasses for people with dyslexia. We did loads of tests. He suggested that though some people do benefit from Irlen Lenses, they are not suitable for all. So he changed my prescription to one slightly weaker than the one I had already and put prisms in my glasses in the hope that would help with the strain when reading.
In the last few months I have been working in an office environment with fluorescent lighting and using a computer all day. I have taken as many precautions as possible to avoid migraines leading to having to take time off work. Despite my best efforts, I did have to take one day off due to migraine and boy were they unsympathetic. That’s a story for another day.
I went to work prepared with sunglasses and painkillers. I sat by a window, changed my screen colour to Blue which got darker and darker as each month went by, and made sure I was fully hydrated, all in order to avoid a migraine kicking off.
I tried Honeycomb lenses that I was sent to trial, which sadly made no difference. Neither did the prisms my optician put into my glasses.
By the end of four months, Blue has now lost it’s effect and I am once again searching for the right colour to help make my life easier. Changing screen colour and reading ruler every four months is perhaps frustrating, but I wouldn’t want to think how much it would cost me in lenses!
So here I am, struggling once again to find a solution to my migraines from reading. I’ve been reading on my iBooks app using the ‘Sepia’ coloured background to try to stop my eyes hurting so much, but already had a crashing migraine this weekend when I got too carried away reading a Robin Hobb book. I decided as a New Year’s Resolution that I would try to read more, but I will discuss this in a different blog. However, I am already wondering how long I will keep it going if it keeps triggering headaches or migraine.
I am now searching for other possible ways to reduce my eyestrain and headaches. I have found that Green and Red overlays have done nothing to help me. I wonder if this has some link with colour blindness or if it is just a coincidence.
Opticians? Learning support people? Any suggestions on where to go next with this? Anyone got something they would like me to trial on the blog? Please leave your thoughts below.
Posted on January 21, 2015, in Personal Experience and tagged Dyslexia, Irlen Syndrome, Learning Support, Meares-Irlen syndrome, Optician, Scotopic sensitivity syndrome, Vision, Visual. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.