There was no evidence that Irlen Syndrome existed and there was no proof that treatments, such as Irlen lenses, helped those with reading difficulties, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has said in a position statement.
Irlen Syndrome is commonly defined as a perceptual processing disorder, suggesting the brain is unable to properly process visual information from the eyes because of sensitivity to certain wavelengths of light.
Symptoms are said to include poor concentration; difficulties with reading, writing and comprehension; glare sensitivity; headaches and poor depth perception.
“The real concern with diagnoses of Irlen Syndrome is that it can distract from genuine diagnosis and treatment, such as a comprehensive evaluation by an educational psychologist followed by the appropriate remedial educational input,” RANZCO spokesperson Professor Frank Martin said.
“Any interventions that distract from and delay this evaluation could be detrimental to the effective treatment of any learning disabilities.”
RANZCO said there was no sound theoretical basis or evidence that Irlen Syndrome actually existed and a diagnosis of the condition was based solely on symptoms with no quantitative physiological correlation.
Treatments associated with Irlen Syndrome, such as coloured lenses, had not been proven to be any more effective in improving reading difficulties in children than in children assessed in a control group, RANZCO added.
While there was no evidence Irlen lenses were harmful, the use of unproven methods could waste time and resources and prevent a child from receiving the appropriate evidence-based educational remedies that could help with their learning development.