Enkeleda Sako


The overlays used by the Irlen method and the Intuitive system are A4 plastic sheets, with one ‘shiny’ and one ‘matte’ side. Wilkins, on the basis of his group’s research, concurs with Irlen’s opinion that filters should be individually-prescribed, as there exists an optimal color for each individual which will reduce their visual stress symptoms and facilitate their reading to the greatest extent (Wilkins, 2003; Wilkins et al. 2005; though see Simmers et al., 2001). The basic set of colors provided by the Irlen method and the Intuitive system are broadly similar (the chromaticity of the Intuitive Overlays, along with other details, can be found in Wilkins, 1994). In both systems, a patient’s optimal overlay is chosen using a process of elimination, often combined with questions relating to any visual stress symptoms the patient may be suffering from. This study describes the history of color overlays, the use of them as a treatment and various theoretical mechanisms which potentially explain the effects of colored filters on reading such as magnocellular theory. 


Article visualizations:

Hit counter



color overlays, Meares-Irlen syndrome, magnocellular theory, dyslexia


Irlen, H., Reading by the colors: overcoming dyslexia and other reading disabilities through the Irlen method. 1991, New York: Avery Publishing Group.

Wilkins, A.J., Visual Stress. 1995., Oxford: Oxford University Press. 194.

Maclachlan, A., Yale, S., and Wilkins, A.J., Open trials of precision ophthalmic tinting: 1-year follow-up of 55 patients. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 1993. 13: p. 175-178.

Wilkins, A.J., Overlays for classroom and optometric use. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 1994. 14: p. 97-99.

Robinson, G.L. and Foreman, P.J., Scotopic Sensitivity/Irlen Syndrome and the use of colored filters: A long-term placebo controlled and masked study of reading achievement and perception of ability. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1999a. 79: p. 467-483.

Robinson, G.L. and Foreman, P.J., Scotopic Sensitivity/Irlen Syndrome and the use of colored filters: A long-term placebo-controlled study of reading strategies using analysis of miscue. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1999b. 88: p. 35-52.

Evans, B.J.W. and Drasdo, N., Tinted lenses and related therapies for learning disabilities: a review. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 1991. 11: p. 206-217.

Tyrrell, R., Holland, K., Dennis, D., and Wilkins, A.J., Colored overlays, visual discomfort, visual search and classroom reading. J. Res. Reading, 1995. 181: p. 10-23.

Robinson, G.L. and Miles, J., The use of colored overlays to improve visual processing: A preliminary survey. The Exceptional Child, 1987. 341: p. 65-7.

Wilkins, A.J., Nimmo-Smith, M.I., Tait, A., McManus, C., Della Sala, S., Tilley, A., Arnold, K., Barrie, M., and Scott, S., A neurological basis for visual discomfort. Brain, 1984. 107: p. 989-1017.

Georgeson, M.A., Psychophysical hallucinations of orientation and spatial frequency.Perception, 1976. 5: p. 99-111.

Wilkins, A.J. and Nimmo-Smith, M.I., The clarity and comfort of printed text. Ergonomics, 3012, 1705-1720., 1987.

Wilkins, A.J., Lewis, E., Smith, F., and Rowland, E., Colored overlays and their benefits for reading. J. Res. Reading, 2001. 181: p. 10-23.

Jeanes, R., Busby, A., Martin, J., Lewis, E., Stevenson, N., Pointon, D., and Wilkins, A.J.,Prolonged use of colored overlays for classroom reading. Brit. J. Psychol., 1997. 88: p. 531-548.

Wilkins, A.J. and Lewis, E., Colored overlays, text and texture. Perception, 1999. 28: p. 641-650.

Thomson, W.D. and B., E., "A new approach to vision screening in schools ". Ophthal Physiol Opt, 1999. 19: p. 196-209.

Falk, D.S., Brill, D.R., and Stork, D.G., Seeing the Light: optics in nature, photography, color, vision and holography. 1988, New York: J Wiley and Sons.

Smith, V.C. and Pokorny, J., Spectral sensitivity of the fovea cone photo pigments between 400 and 500 nm. Vision Research, 1975. 15: p. 161-171.

Evans, B.J.W., Wilkins, A.J., Brown, J., Busby, A., Wingfield, A., Jeanes, R., and Bald, J., A preliminary investigation into the etiology of Meares-Irlen syndrome. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 1996a. 164: p. 286-296.

Evans, B.J.W., Wilkins, A.J., Busby, A., and Jeanes, R., Optometric characteristics of children with reading difficulties who report a benefit from colored filters., in John Dalton's Color Vision Legacy, D. Garden, Editor. 1996b., Taylor and Francis: London. p. 709-715.

Fletcher, R., The City University Color Vision Test. Third Edition. 1998., Windsor: Keeler.

MacLeod, D.I.A. and Boynton, R.M., Chromaticity diagram showing cone excitation by stimuli of equal luminance. J Opt. Soc. Amer., 1979. 69: p. 1183-1186.

Irlen, H. Successful treatment of learning difficulties. in The Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association,. 1983. Anaheim, California.

Wilkins, A.J., Jeanes, R.J., Pumfrey, P.D., and Laskier, M., Rate of Reading Test: its reliability, and its validity in the assessment of the effects of colored overlays. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 1996. 16: p. 491-497.

Bouldoukian, J., Wilkins, A.J., and Evans, B.J.W., Randomized control trial of the effect of colored overlays on the rate of reading of people with specific learning difficulties.Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 2002. 221: p. 55-60.

Scott, L., McWhinnie, H., Taylor, L., Stevenson, N., Irons, P., Lewis, E., Evans, M., Evans, B., and Wilkins, A., Colored overlays in schools: orthoptic and optometric findings. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 2002. 22: p. 156-165.

Kriss, I., An investigation of the effects of colored overlays on reading in dyslexics and controls., in BSc Thesis. Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. 2002.

Evans, B.J.W. and Joseph, F., The effect of colored filters on the rate of reading in an adult student population. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 2002 in press.

Hughes, L.E. and Wilkins, A.J., Typography in children's reading schemes may be suboptimal: evidence from measures of reading rate. J. Res. Reading, 2000. 233: p. 314-324.

Baddeley, A.D., Emslie, H., and Nimmo-Smith, M.I., The Speed and Capacity of Language Processing Task: SCOLP. 1992., Bury St Edmunds.: Thames Valley Test Company.

Mills, E. and Borg, N., Trends in recommended lighting levels: an international comparison. J. Illuminating Eng. Soc., 1999. 28: p. 155-163.

Stone, R., The Light Barrier. 2002, New York: St. Martin's Press.

British_Psychological_Society, Dyslexia, Literacy and Psychological Assessment. Report of a Working Party of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology., ed. R. Reason. 1999, Leicester: British Psychological Society.

Evans, B.J.W., Dyslexia and Vision. 2001., London: Whurr:

Daugirdiene, A., Kulikowski, J.J., Stanikunas, R., and Vaitkevicius, H., The effects of adaptation and surround on colour-constancy measurements. Perception, 2002. 31(Suppl:131).

Werner, A., Sharpe, L.T., and Zrenner, E., Asymmetries in the time-course of chromatic adaptation and the significance of contrast. Vision Research, 2000. 40: p. 1101-1113.

Lightstone, A., Lightstone, T., and Wilkins, A.J., Both colored overlays and colored lenses can improve reading fluency, but their optimal chromaticity’s differ. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 1999. 914: p. 279-285.

Harris, D., Paper read at the City University course on Specific Learning Difficulties. 2002.

Evans, B.J.W., Lightstone, A., Eperjesi, F., Duffy, J., Speedwell, L., Patel, R., and Wilkins, A.J., A review of the management of 323 consecutive patients seen in a specific learning difficulties clinic. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 1999. 196: p. 454-466.

Wilkins, A.J. and Sihra, N., A colorizer for use in determining an optimal ophthalmic tint. Color Res. Appn, 2000. 263: p. 246-253.

Simmers, A.J., Gray, L.S., and Wilkins, A.J., The influence of tinted lenses upon ocular accommodation. Vis. Res., 2001b. 41: p. 1229-1238.

Berman, S., Fein, G., and Myers, A., Luminance-controlled pupil size affects word-reading accuracy. J. Illuminating Engineering Soc., 1996b. 25(1): p. 51-59.

Berman, S.M., Fein, G., and Jewett, D.L., Spectral determinants of steady-state pupil size with full field of view. J. Illuminating Engineering Soc., 1992. 21(2): p. 3-13.

Berman, S.M., Jewett, D.L., and Bullimore, M.A., Lighting spectral effect on Landolt C performance is enhanced by blur and abolished by mydriasis. J. Illuminating Engineering Soc., 1996a. 25(1): p. 42-50.

Dobkins, K.R., Thiele, A., and Albright, T.D., Comparison of red-green equiluminance points in humans and macaques: evidence for different L:M cone ratios between species. J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis, 2000. 173: p. 545-56.

Lovegrove, W., Martin, F., and Slaghuis, W., A theoretical and experimental case for a residual deficit in specific reading disability. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 1986. 3: p. 225-267.

Livingstone, M.S., Rosen, G.D., Drislane, F.W., and Galaburda, A.M., Physiological and anatomical evidence for a magnocellular defect in developmental dyslexia. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 1991. 88: p. 7943-7947.

Galaburda, A.M., Neuroanatomical basis of developmental dyslexia. Neurol Clin., 1993. 111: p. 161-173.

Simmers, A.J., Bex, P.J., Smith, F.K.H., and Wilkins, A.J., Spatiotemporal visual function in tinted lens wearers. Investigative Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci., 2001a. 423: p. 879-884.

Stein, J., The magnocellular theory of dyslexia. Dyslexia, 2001. 71: p. 12-36.

Scheiman, M., Blaskey, P., Ciner, E.B., Gallaway, M., Parisi, M., Pollack, K., and Selznick, R., Vision characteristics of individuals identified as Irlen filter candidates. J. Amer. Optom. Assn., 1991. 61: p. 600-605.

Aurora, S.K. and Welch, K.M., Brain excitability in migraine: evidence from trans cranial magnetic stimulation studies. Curr. Opin. Neurol., 1998. 113(Jun): p. 205-9.

Chronicle, E.P. and Wilkins, A.J., Gratings that induce distortions mask superimposed targets. Perception, 1996. 25: p. 661-668.

Chronicle, E.P., Wilkins, A.J., and Coleston, D.M., Thresholds for detection of a target against a background grating suggest visual dysfunction in migraine with aura but not migraine without aura. Cephalalgia, 1995. 15: p. 117-22.

Chronicle, E. and Wilkins, A.J., Color and visual discomfort in migraines. Lancet, 1991. 338(890).

Nulty, D., Wilkins, A.J., and Williams, J.M., Mood, pattern sensitivity and headache: a longitudinal study. Psychol. Med, 1987. 17: p. 705-713.

Zeki, S., Color coding in the cerebral cortex: the responses of wavelength-selective and color-coded cells in monkey visual cortex to changes in wavelength composition. Neuroscience, 1983a. 9: p. 767-781.

Zeki, S., Color coding in the cerebral cortex: the reaction of cells in monkey visual cortex to wavelengths and colors. Neuroscience, 1983b. 9: p. 741-76.

Zeki, S., A century of cerebral achromatopsia. Brain, 1990. 113(6): p. 1721-1777.

Wilkins, A.J., Baker, A., Amin, D., Smith, S., Bradford, J., Boniface, S., Zaiwalla, Z., Besag, F.M.C., Binnie, C.D., and Fish, D., Treatment of photosensitive epilepsy using colored filters. Seizure, 1999. 8: p. 444-449.

Evans, B.J.W., Patel, R., and Wilkins, A.J., Optometric function in visually-sensitive migraine before and after treatment with tinted spectacles. Ophthal. Physiol. Opt., 2002. 22: p. 130-142.

Wilkins, A.J., Patel, R., Adjamian, R., and Evans, B.J.W., Tinted spectacles and visually sensitive migraine. Cephalalgia, in press.

Bohnen, S., Twijnstra, A., Wijnen, G., and Jolles, J., Tolerance for light and sound of patients with persistent post-concessional symptoms six months after mild head injury. Journal of Neurology, 1991. 238: p. 443-446.

Padula, W.V. and Shapiro, J.B., Head injury and the post-trauma vision syndrome. Review, 1993. 244: p. 153-158.

Waddell, P.A. and Gronwall, D.M., Sensitivity to light and sound following minor head injury. Acta Neurol Scand, 1984. 69: p. 270 - 276.

Zihl, J., Sehen, in Neuropsychologist Rehabilitation, D.v. Cramon and J. Zihl, Editors. 1988, Springer: Berlin. p. 105 – 131.

Jackowski, M.M., Sturr, J.F., Taub, H.A., and Turk, M.A., Photophobia in patients with traumatic brain injury: uses of light-filtering lenses to enhance contrast sensitivity and reading rate. Neurorehabilitation, 1996. 6: p. 193-201.

Kennard, C., Lawden, M., Morland, A.B., and Ruddock, K.H., Color identification and color constancy are impaired in a patient with incomplete achromatopsia associated with prostrate cortical lesions. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. Biol. Sci., 1995. 22(260): p. 169-175.

Copyright (c) 2018 Enkeleda Sako

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The research works published in this journal are free to be accessed. They can be shared (copied and redistributed in any medium or format) and\or adapted (remixed, transformed, and built upon the material for any purpose, commercially and\or not commercially) under the following terms: attribution (appropriate credit must be given indicating original authors, research work name and publication name mentioning if changes were made) and without adding additional restrictions (without restricting others from doing anything the actual license permits). Authors retain the full copyright of their published research works and cannot revoke these freedoms as long as the license terms are followed.

Copyright © 2015 - 2018. European Journal Of Social Sciences Studies (ISSN 2501-8590) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library. All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms. All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and standards formulated by Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003) and  Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003) and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Copyrights of the published research works are retained by authors.


Hit counter