What is Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome

Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is also known as Irlen-Meares Syndrome, Visual Stress or Visual Snow


Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome also referred to as Irlen Syndrome after Helen Irlen, who in the early 1980's discovered that some people with poor reading showed a marked and immediate improvement by simply overlaying the pages with coloured plastic (e.g. acetate sheets). Furthermore, in the early 1980s New Zealand teacher Olive Meares independently described the visual distortions some individuals reported when reading from white paper hence Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome may also be referred to as 'Meares-Irlen syndrome'. Additionally the condition may also referred to as 'Visual Stress' (n.b. the underlying condition is not caused by stress or anxiety). Informally, this condition is sometimes referred to as 'visual snow' or 'snowy vision'

It is believed that this condition affects, to varying degrees, approximately 12% of the population and that the condition is somehow caused by the brain and/or eye incorrectly processing/interpreting what the eye is seeing (ie. it is neurological). These people will have increased difficulty reading and studying. Unfortunately standard sight tests and many educational assessments do not routinely detect this condition. Fortunately, awareness of this condition is now much more widespread and it is recognised by many employers (esp. large companies), educational institutions and schools.

The main symptoms of Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome:

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