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Irlen Syndrome- is a perceptual processing disorder, affecting the brains ability to process visual information. It can affect many things. The symptoms are often helped with coloured overlays over writing, different colour paper, and specially tinted glasses.
A few years I had never heard of irlen syndrome, I certainly had no idea that I saw the world any differently to anyone else.
When I was first assessed for irlen syndrome it amazed me how what I thought was the norm, was in fact not the norm. Having to count squares and crosses on a page was virtually impossible, with my head feeling like it was going to split open with pain, as I was wearing my clear lenses in the assessment and not my prescription sunglasses. In fact I remember the assessor saying she knew I had irlen syndrome pretty much straight away. I remember taking off my sunglasses and immediately flinching and squinting at the brightness of the room. The room with the lights off and one window on a cloudy day.
The more I read about irlen syndrome, the more I realised how much it affected me, but it wasn’t until I went back to the assessor to get assessed for the colour of the tint of my glasses that I realised how differently I saw the world.
For a lot of people with irlen syndrome they talk of not being able to read at all, because the words and letters move so much for them. I could read, but it was a struggle. For me letters would fall of the page, or letters and words would blur into one, I skipped words, lines and paragraphs, or would read lines or words over and over, and within a few minutes my head would be in severe pain and I became exhausted. I also found trying to read on a white background the worst, it felt like my eye balls were being burnt. I honestly thought this was normal.
So yes my irlen syndrome does affect my reading, but for me not as severely as others.
However my light sensitivity is a different matter. I’ve always found the world agonisingly bright lights (natural and not), flashing lights, lights in the dark (e.g. car head lights and lamp posts) bright colours just on the wall and patterns in bright paint would really affect me very severely. My head was in this constant state of agony, of feeling as if one more bit of light and it would just purely split open.
It also affects other areas, like depth perception, fatigue, concentration issues and many other areas.
Yet still I didn’t know the world looked so different.
So at the assessment for my lenses I got a sense of how differently the world really looks.
However, when I got my glasses through the difference was amazing.
The world looks 3D and is so detailed, I was transfixed by a tree outside of my flat window and could see speckles on outside bricks I never knew existed.
I have become transfixed by clouds, as I had no idea how detailed and beautiful they could be and how so often they look like rolling hills or the desert.
People also have a lot more detail to their face. Before my irlen glasses people looked rather like Wallace and Gromit characters. As in people had eyes, a nose and mouth and that was it, the features I could see were just blobs like Wallace and Gromit. Now though I notice re detail in someone’s face.
I still struggle a lot to recognise people until I have seen their face a lot. So often I think people are the same person because of them both having the same hair colour. So that is still something I struggle with and I think always will, but there is much more detail to people.
I also see everything more vibrantly, but not in a bright sense that is overwhelming, in a way that makes things clearer.
I can also see colours better and more shades of them. So previously two shades of a colour next to each other would have just been the same to me, now I could say that one is darker than the other.
I am reading quicker now and reading is less tiring and painful.
I have had my glasses for several weeks now and I have not had a single headache since getting them and I used to have some severity of headache constantly, often moderately, with it often becoming severe.
I have two pairs of irlen glasses, in two different frames. I got both my wraparound sunglasses tinted and a pair of regular glasses from specsavers tinted. I wanted my wraparound pair tinted as they block out light from the side and when it is bright I need that, but sometimes I don’t need light being blocked from the sides, and a little bit of light entering in from the side is ok and useful.
[image description: three photos in one, they all show the same white non binary trans man with short brown hair and a beard. In the top photo he is turned to the side with glasses on which have no wraparound side to them, they have dark tinted lenses. In the bottom right picture he wears the same glasses but facing to the front so you can see his face straight on, with the dark tinted lenses shown more clearly.They are a black frame. In the bottom left picture he again faces to the side, but this time the black frame of his tinted glasses are a wrap around sunglasses frame and therefore the side is blocking light out. End image description]
So yes I wear tinted glasses which look this dark always, including inside and on days which to you may be dark and tinted lenses are not needed, but for me they are always needed.
The world looks rather beautiful and I never knew. I am excited to see the leaves next autumn, as I always like the colour the leaves go, but I know they will look even more amazing with my lenses.