Irlen Colored Overlays
Irlen Overlays are the original colored overlay technology. They are used by hundreds of thousands of students and over one-million people worldwide. Irlen Overlays are the only colored overlays available backed by more than a decade of scientific research and used by more than 4,000 school districts worldwide.
Colored overlays are most effective for individuals whose difficulties are isolated to reading. If you experience challenges with writing, math, depth perception, night driving, or the environment, colored filters (worn as glasses) will be your best treatment option. However, colored overlays are an important first step in determining whether the Irlen Method can work for you and provide your first experience with relief.
Colored Overlays can help
- Improve print clarity and stability
- Reduce strain and fatigue
- Eliminate headaches
- Improve comprehension
- Tracking and keeping your place while reading
- Make reading faster
- Allow you to read longer and with comfort
Our Irlen Colored Overlays are now available in two different forms to best fit your daily needs:
- Original Irlen Colored Overlays work great for placing over paper and books. Shop Irlen Colored Overlays
- Irlen ClingsTM is our solution for computer screens, iPhones, iPads, eReaders, and other electronic screens. People often ask what is the clings meaning. With an optical-grade clear adhesive, Irlen Clings adhere to screens, while providing the same Irlen Colored Overlay protection you know and love. Shop Irlen Clings
“The use of Irlen Colored Overlays and filters may provide the fighting chance many at-risk readers deserve.”
— The Reading Teacher. William Henk, Ed.D, Associate Professor of Education and Reading Pennsylvania State University.
Colored Overlays Work
“After 3 months of using Irlen Colored Overlays, students demonstrated significant improvement in reading achievement with gains between 1 year 8 months to 2 years 8 months.”
— Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities
“Our research has shown an immediate and significant increase in reading speed using colored overlays.”
— Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge University
What are Overlays?
Irlen Colored Overlays are transparent colored plastic sheets that come in ten different colors ranging from yellow to blue overlays for reading (see below for a list of Irlen-specific overlay colors). A colored overlay (or colour overlay as they are known in the UK) is primarily designed for use on the printed page and screens to improve comfort, clarity, and stability of print when reading. This is different from Irlen Filters that are worn as glasses or contact lenses and are designed to reduce stress on the brain as it tries to process light and visual stimuli.
How to Know if Colored Overlays Can Help You?
The best way to know whether using a blue overlay for reading (or some other color) could help make reading easier and more comfortable for you is to start with a self-test. Sometimes called a scotopic sensitivity syndrome test, our self-test will let you know if the issues you are experiencing are related to the specific type of visual processing problem that colored overlays can help. Remember, colored overlays for reading are not a solution for all reading problems, only those that are caused by the brain’s inability to process light efficiently.
Colored Overlays for Dyslexia
People often think they can use colored overlays for dyslexia. In fact, you might see people advertising colored overlays for dyslexia, or blue dyslexia overlays, but people should be wary of anyone suggesting how to use colored overlays for reading if someone has dyslexia. Colored overlays are not a solution for dyslexia. Colored overlays are a solution for a specific type of visual processing problem. Dyslexia is a language processing problem, not a visual processing problem, so colored overlays are not an appropriate solution for dyslexia. A dyslexia blue overlay is not something either dyslexia experts or visual processing experts would recommend. People with dyslexia have a phonological processing deficit, meaning they have a hard time connecting what a letter looks like with the sound that letter makes. Dyslexia can cause reading difficulties, but colored overlays won’t make reading easier for someone with dyslexia, unless they also have a visual processing problem. It is common for people with dyslexia to also have a visual processing problem like Irlen Syndrome or Visual Stress. Research suggests that more than a third of people with dyslexia also have Irlen Syndrome or Visual Stress, and colored overlays can be a good solution to address the visual processing part of their reading difficulties. Learn more about the differences between dyslexia and visual processing problems like Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress here: https://www.irlensyndrome.org/irlen-vs-dyslexia/
Colored overlays are a good solution for visual processing problems like Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress. People with Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress have a hyperactive visual cortex. The part of their brain that processes visual information works too hard to try and make sense of the visual signals it receives. Symptoms of Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress are visual distortions like words moving or blurring when trying to read, and physical discomfort like eye-strain or headaches. These types of distortions and discomfort can lead to reading difficulties that include reduced reading speed, slow or choppy reading, poor comprehension, and difficulty with sustained reading. Colored overlays are a helpful solution for the kinds of reading difficulties associated with Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress, because they reduce visual distortions and discomfort when reading. Reading on computer screens can also be difficult for people with Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress. Computer screen overlays, work the same way as colored overlays for the printed page, and can be very helpful at reducing strain, fatigue, and reading difficulties when working on the computer. Colored overlays come in ten colors: turquoise, blue-gray, aqua, grey, rose, peach, goldenrod, yellow, purple and green overlays for reading.
Colored overlays can be a helpful first line of defense for the visual distortions and physical discomfort that reading can cause, but colored lenses are even better. Irlen Spectral Filters are individualized, precision-tinted, colored lenses that are tailored specifically for your brain. Unlike colored overlays, Spectral Filters, worn as glasses or contact lenses, can help with light sensitivity, depth perception, anxiety, headaches, migraines, and attention difficulties. Wearing colored lenses keeps your brain calm all the time, not just when looking at a page or a screen. Because Irlen Spectral Filters are specialized colored lenses that are tailored specifically for you, they can address all of your symptoms, not just the ones you experience when reading. If you find that colored overlays help you with any of your reading difficulties, colored lenses will give you an even better result. Caution: Do not buy glasses to match your overlay color. Colored lenses work differently than colored overlays, and the color required will be different. Tinting glasses the same color as your preferred overlay can cause an increase in symptoms, strain and fatigue, and visual distortions.
How Colored Overlays Help Visual Stress and Irlen Syndrome
People who suffer from visual processing problems like Visual Stress and Irlen Syndrome have brains that are hyper-reactive to visual stimuli, high contrast, and bright lights. Looking at black print on a white page causes too much activity in the visual cortex, and this over-activity causes a variety of physical and perceptual symptoms that can lead to reading difficulties, and even affect reading speed and comprehension. Colored overlays reduce the amount of contrast on the page, making it less stressful for the brain to look at. By reducing over-activity in the brain, colored overlays can reduce or eliminate visual distortions like moving or blurry print and improve comfort, reading speed, comprehension, and ability for sustained attention when reading. Reading should be easy, not hard. Reading should be comfortable, not painful, exhausting, or make you feel sick. When reading, the page should look the same when you stop as it did when you started, and you should feel the same too. If reading puts you to sleep, that’s a problem. If reading makes your eyes hurt, that’s a problem. If reading makes you feel anxious, sick, or exhausted, that’s a problem. Colored overlays are a good first step to addressing symptoms of Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress that happen on the page or screen.
Choosing the Right Colored Overlays
A certified Irlen Screener or Diagnostician can determine the best overlay color for you. Using a systematic assessment protocol, these professionals can best determine which overlay color, or combination of colors, will provide you with optimal comfort and task performance. During a formal assessment, specifically designed tasks will provide a comprehensive list of symptoms and difficulties that your assessor will address with the right combination of colored overlays. If you are seeking optimal benefits from colored overlays, a visit with a trained professional is the best choice for determining your overlay color(s). As a general rule, choosing your own overlay color is not recommended; however, if you are looking to see if color might be a good solution for you, testing out colored overlays on your own can be helpful. Remember, colored overlays are only the first step in the Irlen Solution.
How Colored Overlays Help with Visual Distortion
Why do colored overlays stop visual distortions and make it easier to look at the printed page? Colored overlays reduce or eliminate visual distortions on the printed page in two ways: 1) by reducing contrast and 2) by changing the timing of the visual signals being sent to the brain.
Reducing Contrast: People with visual processing problems like Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress have brains that overreact to high contrast (like black print on white paper) and brightness. The white page can feel excessively bright and uncomfortable to look at, and print can start to move or distort on the page. The right color will eliminate the white background and reduce contrast on the page, making it easier and more comfortable for someone with Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress to look at.
Timing of Visual Signals: When we look at something, our eyes capture an image that is translated into electrical signals that are then sent to the visual cortex in the brain. People with Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress receive visual signals to the brain that are out of sync. Colors are simply light traveling at different speeds. When you change the color of the page, you change the speed at which that visual information travels to the brain. Colored overlays help synchronize the visual signals being sent to the brain, so the brain can process those signals properly.
Timing is Everything. As in life, when it comes to visual processing, timing is everything. When visual signals are out of sync, the brain has to work harder to make sense of those signals, and brain function is negatively affected. Colors are just light traveling at different speeds to the brain. Changing the color of what you are looking at changes the speed at which that information travels to the brain. Even small changes in color can make big differences in terms of how the brain processes the visual information it receives. This is one reason why colored overlays aren’t the ultimate solution for people with Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress. Colored overlays are limited in terms of how much improvement and relief they can offer. While colored overlays are an excellent low-cost, temporary or introductory solution for the printed page, for optimal relief and improvement, individualized spectral filters (worn as colored glasses or contact lenses) are the best solution. Unlike colored overlays, spectral filters are precision-tinted specifically for your brain to adjust the visual signals exactly the way your brain needs without changing the color of what you’re looking at.