Episode 80 |

Curing Light Sensitivity, ADD, Migraines, and More Through Color: Dr. Helen Irlen

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This Week’s Guest:

Dr. Helen Irlen is an expert in — and the discoverer of — Irlen Syndrome. This syndrome is a visual processing problem that can cause symptoms including headaches, difficulty reading, sleepiness while reading, a shortened attention span, and more. Helen invented the Irlen Method and Irlen Spectral Filters, which are used to treat the syndrome, and is also the founder and executive director of the Irlen Institute.


In addition, Helen is the author of three books: Reading by the Colors, The Irlen Revolution: A Guide to Changing Your Perception and Your Life, and, most recently, Sports Concussions and Getting Back in the Game of Life. She, Irlen Syndrome, and the Irlen Method have been featured on 60 Minutes, The Doctors, Good Morning America, BBC, 60 Minutes Australia, and more.


Find Out More About Helen Here:

The Irlen Institute @SeeIrlen on Twitter


In This Episode:

  • [02:17] – Helen explains why she likes talking about Irlen Syndrome.
  • [03:23] – Irlen Syndrome is a kind of visual processing problem. In other words, the problem isn’t with the eyes themselves.
  • [04:25] – Up to 48% of certain populations have Irlen Syndrome. In the general population, around 26% of people have it.
  • [05:11] – What are some of the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome that show up in everyday life?
  • [10:42] – Helen talks about her Spectral Filters, which can help with Irlen Syndrome. She also explains that the condition can be inherited or acquired.
  • [13:38] – We hear about the environmental triggers for Irlen Syndrome.
  • [17:58] – Helen talks about the steps involved in getting tested for and diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome.
  • [20:24] – Stephan shares his personal experience with being tested for Irlen Syndrome.
  • [21:48] – What would Helen say to someone who thinks they don’t have a problem, but that they just aren’t into reading books?
  • [25:38] – Helen describes different reading styles. Of the four she talks about, three may indicate Irlen Syndrome. She then tells a story about someone who succeeded in passing the bar after being treated for Irlen Syndrome.
  • [28:30] – Stephan and Helen talk about Dave Asprey, who also has Irlen Syndrome. Helen then goes on to talk about how dramatically Irlen Syndrome can affect overall health and quality of life.
  • [33:18] – We hear more about different ways in which Irlen Syndrome can affect people, including in relation to driving and sports.
  • [36:47] – Helen emphasizes how important it is for her to make sure that she isn’t misdiagnosing Irlen Syndrome.
  • [39:25] – To be tested, does someone need to fly to Southern California to meet with Helen? She clarifies that they have testing centers in 146 countries worldwide.
  • [40:07] – The screening process can take an hour to an hour and a half. The diagnostic process for the right filter takes two to two and a half hour. Helen then talks more about the logistics of the screening and diagnostic.
  • [41:10] – Helen talks about the average cost of the screening and diagnostic.
  • [44:24] – The cost for the tinting is approximately $156 (on top of the price of your own glasses).
  • [45:11] – Stephan and Helen talk about how life-changing the process of being treated for Irlen Syndrome can be.
  • [46:24] – We hear more about light-triggered headaches, and the likelihood that they’re caused by Irlen Syndrome.
  • [47:25] – Helen talks about Irlen Syndrome in relation to autism. She describes her Asperger’s College Professor Talks video.
  • [52:24] – Helen handles children with autism differently, especially those who are non-verbal. Here, she describes how she finds the best solution for these children.
  • [53:57] – We learn why, and how, Helen came up with the process of treating and identifying Irlen Syndrome.
  • [60:22] – Helen talks about her new book, Sports Concussions and Getting Back in the Game of Life, and how much of it deals with each of several various topics.


Get Optimized!

  1. Try reading for an hour. Assess whether you get sleepy or feel like you’re getting a headache. If so, you may have Irlen Syndrome.
  2. During your hour of reading, pay attention to how the experience changes. Irlen Syndrome may lead to your reading getting slower or choppier as the session goes on.
  3. Make a list of visual factors that affect you. For example, are you bothered by bright light, fluorescent lights, or high contrast in text?


Links and Resources:

The Irlen Institute @SeeIrlen on Twitter
Irlen Syndrome
Irlen Method
Irlen Spectral Filters
Reading by the Colors
The Irlen Revolution: A Guide to Changing Your Perception and Your Life
Sports Concussions and Getting Back in the Game of Life
Irlen Self Tests
Irlen Testing Centers
SPECT scan
Spectral Filters
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
Dr. Daniel Amen on The Optimized Geek
Dave Asprey on The Optimized Geek
Asperger’s College Professor Talks video
Irlen Youtube Channel



5 thoughts on “Curing Light Sensitivity, ADD, Migraines, and More Through Color: Dr. Helen Irlen

  1. This Podcast Helen Irlen Interview was so interesting and very educational. I loved hearing the stories of Learner’s that were visually challenged yet with the support of Irlen screening, diagnostician’s and their own Personal commitment persevered and solved their reading problems. Also the story of the piano tuner who could now, after an Irlen screening, read music and enjoy playing piano and performing. Helen sharing how eating protein is so essential to learning. “Kids succeeding successfully is the Goal.” 146 Countries worldwide support Irlen Syndrome! Also I really appreciate ed the information about testing the non-verbal Autistic Spectrum Learner. The concept of color and pairing color with learning and reading difficulties is and always will be so elegant and beautiful. Reading is supposed to feel good and with Irlen strategies reading can truly feel good!

  2. I am so glad to be screener, and then diagnostician , the performance of the client is improved, he feels calm in the brain .

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