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Meares-Irlen Syndrome and testing
 visual_stress - (apostlealex)
06:00pm 23/05/2009
Alexandria posting in Visual stress, Meares-Irlen Syndrome and dyslexia
 Hi, I'm Alex, and I'm new :) 
Last week I decided to take advantage of my college's free dyslexia testing and booked myself in. 
I'd had these sorts of symptoms:
Dizzines/ Nausia when reading and using my laptop
Dizziness/Nausia/Pain when under flourescent lighting (eg; in the supermarket or in class)
Strain in all lighting, and difficulty finding a comfortable lighting (even when just walking around in the daylight I am strained and dizzy)
Migranes/Eye based headaches
Difficulty concentrating
Everything seeming too bright
Difficulty looking at or focusing on anything white, or anything patterned

After talking to the person screening me for a while, he said it sounded as though I had severed Meares-Irlen Syndrome, and that sadly the college couldn't help, but I could get help outside of college. He also gave me a pink filter for my book, which is handy when reading, but obviously doesn't help with the pain the rest of the time!
Well, I've been looking into it, and I've found a couple of ways of doing it. 
I could go for Irlen testing (http://www.irleneast.com), which is going to end up costing me about £300 just for diagnosis, then a further £90 to get any lenses I have tinted, I'd have to also find the money for frames seperatly. 
Or I could have tinted lenses fitted at an optitians using this method - 
http://www.ceriumoptical.com/index.aspx . 
The second option will work out cheaper by at least a couple of hundred pounds, so obviously I'd prefer to go down that route, but I am really worried they'll only be able to help me with glasses for reading....
Is the Irlen testing worth the extra money? Has anyone gone the optitians route with bad Meares-Irlen and found their glasses are fine for wearing all the time and help with everything else (normal day to day walking around, shopping, bright lights etc)?
I've been googling my heart out but just can't seem to find any reviews of either method :(

Any help really is very much so appreciated - I've been suffering with this a long time, it's been really debilitating to the point where I can't even really go out because of the dizziness and nausia spells. 
I've cross-posted a little, I hope someone can help me! 
Alex x
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Mod note
09:36pm 23/05/2009 (UTC)
Gluppit the prawling strangles, there: Mod hat - blue feathery
Hi, welcome to the community. Could you please edit your post so that it's in standard-sized font, as per the community rules?

I'll have a proper look at your post tomorrow (once it's readable!), I'm not too well tonight. Where in the UK are you? I know a couple of specialists in Scotland.
picword: Mod hat - blue feathery
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Re: Mod note
10:07am 24/05/2009 (UTC)
I'm really sorry, but that's all set on default!
I've had a look through the Lj FAQ's, and there seems to be no option to change the font (I've been with lj for about 7 years and never done it! lol).
So I'm not sure what you would like me to do, should I just enlarge the font?
Also, I'm in Suffolk. There are a couple of specialist Irlen testers that I've found, and quite a few opticians who can do the colour testing, but I just don't know which to go for!
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Re: Mod note
11:02am 24/05/2009 (UTC)
Gluppit the prawling strangles, there
If you could enlarge the font and check it by viewing in the normal LJ style, that would be great. Otherwise we're going to have to keep growing and shrinking the font when looking back and forth between the post and the comments. Your comments are coming up fine, though.

Would you be kind enough to work out why this is happening, or at least tell me anything you reckon is relevant? I'm planning to have a big discussion here about what LJ could do to make it easier to read, and if font sizes are coming up crazily without intention or remedy, that's going to be high on the list.
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Re: Mod note
11:18am 24/05/2009 (UTC)
I've made the font larger - sorry again about that, I hope it's ok now!
I've had a dig around, and I can't find any font settings for my journal theme, which is unusual. I'm guessing perhaps the theme I am using changes the default font setting? I am currently using "Bonjour Chatette" if that helps - but I plan to change themes now you have brought this to my attention :)
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Re: Mod note
11:46am 24/05/2009 (UTC)
Gluppit the prawling strangles, there
It's odd, your journal looks absolutely fine. Do you get this in other communities?

The font size is fine, thanks so much for changing that. Though I've noticed that it's superimposed a white background, even though my friends page views communities in my style (green background). Also your first sentence comes out differently (not on white, and a different or larger font). Most mysterious. It might be worth talking to someone in LJ to see what's going on. If nothing else, obviously you don't want to go changing your journal layout without having to, and I'd really like to know what's going on.
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Re: Mod note
12:47am 26/05/2009 (UTC)
Nat S Ford
It is still small (and too small to read without enlarging it in my browser) for me.
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The visual stuff
11:03am 24/05/2009 (UTC)
Gluppit the prawling strangles, there
I spoke to an Irlen tester when I was looking to get tested, and thought it sounded a bit too fussy to be necessary, especially since they're not all that highly qualified. That said, local opticians aren't always the greatest either, they can rush things. You definitely need someone who will take enough time to make sure you have the right colour, without wanting to spend several hours more than is needed. There are two main ways of testing for colour. One is to look into a colorimeter, a box you stand at where there's a viewing window with text visible, a fluorescent light shining above, and they keep changing the colour of the light until you decide that you like it. The first thing I'd recommend is to bring a book, as they don't have real words in it, so you're not reading, you're looking, which is an entirely different activity. The next point is that this will give you the colour that works with fluorescent light, and you may be more interested in something that allows you to read under incandescent light (although those are being phased out, alas). Also I ended up with completely the wrong colour due to using this thing (pink instead of blue), and ended up with my head spinning from all the changes, and a migraine from the fluorescent. I think the optician who used it wasn't that well trained, and I seem to recall her saying that she wasn't doing anything, I was the one picking the colour. She also got my prescription wrong in a big way, so the resultant glasses gave me such appalling migraine that I missed one of my Finals.

I was much better off with the second method. They have a box of lenses in, I think, eight different intensities of seven different colours, and they put them in front of your eyes and mix and match until they have the colour right. It's common to use the colorimeter first to get a general idea, then fine-tune it with the lenses. You can also start with the lenses from scratch. I got on far better with them. The first eye specialist I saw was mainly testing me for something else, so when we got to the lenses she narrowed it down to green and blue but didn't have time to get the exact shade, plus I was exhausted by this point (she'd been testing me for two hours). Then I saw the optician who messed up, then I got to another Meares-Irlen specialist (an orthoptist, not an Irlen tester, so a genuine eye specialist), and she found that blue was best for me. She did try me on the colorimeter a bit first, but realised it wasn't working for me. My eyes seem to have changed, I think I now need green for reading and blue for being under fluorescent lighting, but I'm saving up as it costs a bomb to tint the glasses. This time I'm going to get assessed by the first specialist I mentioned, but instead of getting my lenses tinted at enormous cost through Cerium, I'm going to get them tinted at my optometrist's for a tenner, as it's exactly the same method and they should be able to match the colour perfectly well.

My point is that different people work better with different methods, and you need someone who is flexible and willing to use whatever turns out to work best for you. If your medical history is complicated (I have severe ME, which causes eye problems amongst other things), it's probably worth going for someone more qualified.

If you want to test how you respond to colour, overlays are a good place to start, as are ultra-cheapie sunglasses in different colours, that I believe you can get for a few pounds. You mention that you were given a pink overlay: were you assessed for it or just handed pink? Your overlay choice is not meant to be the same colour as your glasses choice, although I suspect that I'm going to end up with a colour closer to my preferred overlay choice (lime green) for my next reading specs. You can also put these overlays on top of your computer screen. Do you play around with colours on your computer, and if so which do you prefer? I've done some posts about this, and reviews of some equipment and software, which you can see here.
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Re: The visual stuff
11:24am 24/05/2009 (UTC)
I'm also an M.E sufferer, it's surprising the amount of crossover there is with M.E and visual problems!
I was given a pink overlay after they tried me with a few different colours (blue, green etc) pink was the only one which didn't either give me more discomfort, or make no different! It was very hurried though, and the overlay I have is only about 4" tall by 10" wide, so to be honest, it's pretty useless for things like the computer.
I've had a little mess around with different colours on my laptop, and i've got everything set to purple at the moment, is there a way of changing the entire screen colour that you know of?
Thank you so much for your comprehensive post, it really has helped me a lot :) I'll have a good browse of that link you've placed at the end - hopefully that'll help things out!
Thank you so much again, I feel a little more confident now, as I was totally clueless!
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Re: The visual stuff
12:15pm 24/05/2009 (UTC)
Gluppit the prawling strangles, there
Check the posts I wrote, they talk about different ways of playing with the colour. It's quite common to end up with a couple of colours for this sort of thing. I use a mixture of blue and green myself. A good way of trying things out is to change the colour on your word processor, and if you really want a good test, copy an etext onto it and read it there. Fonts are also worth playing with. My current choice for my word processor (Open Office Writer, which I think is better for playing with this than Word is, plus it's free), is Green 4 for the text background, Gray 80% for the application background, Verdana in size 12 or 13 for the text, and 120% line spacing. You get the colours through Tools, Options, OpenOffice.org, Appearance, can set the default font through Tools, Options, OpenOffice.org Writer, Basic Fonts (Western), and I haven't yet found how to set the line spacing as default but for each document, Ctrl+A, right-click, Paragraph, Indents & Spacing tab, set Line Spacing to Proportional, and then change the percentage. If you want to create a new colour, go to Tools, Options, OpenOffice.org, Colors, pick the colour that's closest to whatever you want, click on Edit to change it to what you do want, and then click on Add and rename it. I've just added a couple of lavenders and four greens to my set, for instance.

If you ended up with a pink overlay, it might be worth trying cheap pink sunglasses, as pure pink is a common colour for those. Also ask them to give you an A4 overlay, the college should be able to hand those out for free, and I don't know why they're being stingy about it. 4" x 10" isn't even useful for reading in most cases, unless you read extremely slowly.

Don't get anyone to assess you until you've had a good long talk with them first and found out how well they can deal with the complex visual problems caused by ME. Can you tolerate fluorescent light? I'd suggest asking in cfids_me, lots of us there have visual problems and there may be someone who knows a good optometrist in your area.

Edited at 2009-05-24 12:16 pm (UTC)
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(no subject)
08:10am 24/05/2009 (UTC)
Hi Alex,

I have Irlens and wear blue/green glasses all the time and they help significantly in dealing with how confusing the outside world is otherwise. I got tested via Irlens tester quite a few years ago - as you say rather expensive. But a few years ago I found an optician and did it via him and was very happy with the results - and it was much cheaper. More and more opticians are now able to test for Irlens and prescribe the relevant lenses that you need and personally I saw no advantge one over the other - if anything because technology had moved on and the optician could use coloured lights rather than trying to stack up a number of coloured lenses to look through I found the optitician route easier and cheaper.

Just as a practical hint for day to day reading - even with coloured lenses I tend to find that larger fonts are easier to read - something you might want to try out.
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(no subject)
10:09am 24/05/2009 (UTC)
Thank you! This was really helpful :)
I did wonder if the Irlens testing was a couple of hundred for something my optician could do, I'm glad to hear from someone who has experience that the optician is just as helpful.
You've just saved me a couple of hundred quid! lol :)
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