irlen/ocular discomfort syndrome/scotopic sensitivity syndrome??

Daanish daanishb at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 8 18:01:56 EST 2004

I was hoping to get some feedback on an eye condition which I have had for a

I have seem quite a few specialists in both the US and UK, and they have
given my condition a number of terms, ranging from 'Irlen Syndrome', Ocular
Discomfort Syndrome and Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome. However, they are not
really sure what the problem is, or whether it can be described by what they
have called it.

Basically the problem began came on rather suddenly in December 2003. I
encountered difficulty in reading and using the computer. When I read, the
white of the paper seemed to leap out and made it difficult to read the
words in black. When using the computer, the screen seems too bright, making
it difficult to read and comprehend the words; this occurred in spite of my
attempts to reduce the brightness and contrast. I also have a problem with
normal vision in the distance, making it uncomfortable, for example, to
watch the television. I don't really have pain but more in the way of
eye-strain. My eyes feel all the time as if I have just completed a 4 hours
exam. It almost feels as if I am not wearing glasses. I also started getting
very severe headaches.

I went to see Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon (Ms Gill Adams at Moorefield's
Eye Hospital) in London in January 2004 who increased the power of my
glasses, which helped the situation. She referred me on to Dr Gordon Plant
who I saw in February. Dr Plant is a neuro-opthamologist in UCL Hospital. He
recommended that I use Amitriptyline in a low dose of 20mg to deal with the
headaches that I was getting with the eye strain. This medicine does seem to
have helped reduce the headaches, but the eye-strain continues.

In May 2004 I went to see Dr David Guyton in Johns Hopkins University
Hospital in the US. At that time higher powered glasses allowed me to work
quite comfortably. Dr Guyton suggested that I try using coloured overlays on
top of the page that I am reading.  We tried a blue overlay, and the page
was definitely better with the overlay on top rather than without.

In late July, the situation reverted to how it was before I used the new
glasses. So even with the higher powered ones, I found it difficult to read.
At this point I went back to see Dr Plant. He was not able to help any
further but he did try out a few overlays and helped me chose the ones that
I am most comfortable with. This is a combination of using purple and blue.

I have been using these overlays for over a month and have reached a point
where I cannot do without them. This is obviously a problem since not all
reading material can be comfortably read using an overlay. A couple of weeks
ago I went to see Ms Adams again who suggested getting tinted glasses as a
replacement to the overlays.

She was sceptical of the Irlen technique and instead suggested getting done
what is known as the Colorimetry test done to chose the correct colour. I
got this done and have started wearing the tinted lenses. They help a little
bit but my vision discomfort continues.

I was wondering if anyone has come across something like this before? I
understand that some people find it useful to use tinted lenses to read, but
is that only for reading? Do people with the Irlen syndrome experience
visual problems associated with only reading, or do they also have problems
with the environment.

I will appreciate any feedback.

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