JAN 21, 2016 5:07 AM PST

Do Rose Colored Glasses Help The Brain Process Information?

Many people take for granted the ability to look at a page of words and read them. The eyes, together with the brain, decode the letters and allow information to be learned or a story to come to life. But for some,  looking at a page makes no sense. The text is blurry or otherwise obscured and no information can be interpreted. That happens sometimes when there is a problem with the eyes. An optometrist or opthamologist can prescribe glasses or other therapy.  But what if it was a problem in how the brain processes visual stimuli? Then what?
Print appears blurry when the brain cannot process information properly
Irlen Syndrom, also known as Meares-Irlen Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is a problem that prevents someone from being able to read text accurately and process the information. It’s not a vision issue however. It’s more complex. When a person reads, the brain has to decode that information. In patients with Irlen, that piece of the puzzle is missing. It’s not an intellectual disorder either. At a physiological level, the interaction between the eyes and the brain is disrupted, though exactly how isn’t known.
 
The condition was first described by two different researchers, each unaware of th other’s interest. In 1980 New Zealand teacher Olive Meares described the visual distortions some individuals reported when reading from white paper. In 1983, American psychologist Helen Irlen wrote a paper about the use of colored overlays aiding the reading abilities of some people. Irlen was the first to systematically define the condition and the term “scotopic sensitivity” came from her work. In the scientific community there is debate over whether the conditions described by both Meares and Irlen are even the same condition.
 
Treatment for the condition is also a source of controversy. The Irlen method involves using tinted lenses, or in the case of computer screens, overlays, to help patients process text and images. While it’s not an optical issue, some doctors have found that the use of colored glasses or overlays are helpful. Patients who have this disorder can also have trouble concentrating, experience fatigue and headaches as well as behavior issues because of the frustration involved in trying to process their environment.
 
Dr. Jeffrey Lewine is a neuroscientist who has studied scotopic sensitivity syndrome and at first he was skeptical of the use of colored lenses. Using MEG scans which measure brain activity directly he set out to disprove that colored lenses could help patients with this condition, but by the end of the study, he had changed his mind. His theory is that Irlen syndrome results when there is a dysfunction in how the Magnocellular and Parvocellular networks in the brain work together. 
 
Check out the video below to see more about Dr. Lewine’s work. While the condition of scotopic sensitivity is debated by many in neuroscience, research into its possible causes is definitely needed.
 
About the Author
English
I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
JUL 27, 2022
Neuroscience
What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
JUL 27, 2022
What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is an extremely painful disorder that usually impacts the lower face and jaw, but may also involve ...
AUG 15, 2022
Neuroscience
COVID-19 Lockdowns Expanded Bird Habitats in Cities
AUG 15, 2022
COVID-19 Lockdowns Expanded Bird Habitats in Cities
Researchers found that reduced human activity due to COVID-19 lockdowns expanded bird populations' range of habitats ...
SEP 04, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Deep Brain Stimulation Shows Promise for Binge-Eating Disorder
SEP 04, 2022
Deep Brain Stimulation Shows Promise for Binge-Eating Disorder
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) may help control symptoms of binge-eating disorder and induce weight loss. The correspondin ...
SEP 15, 2022
Neuroscience
Food Insecurity Affects Brain Development
SEP 15, 2022
Food Insecurity Affects Brain Development
A recent study found that food insecurity affects brain development in mice. University of California Berkeley researche ...
SEP 26, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Trafficking in the Cannabis Industry
SEP 26, 2022
Trafficking in the Cannabis Industry
As more states legalize medical and recreational cannabis use, more light is also being shed on worker exploitation and ...
SEP 29, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
What's In a Lysosome?
SEP 29, 2022
What's In a Lysosome?
The lysosome is a small membrane bound organelle that can be found in most animal cells. It was once thought that these ...
Loading Comments...