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I am a school psychologist and a parent asked me about her son who has been diagnosed with "visual stress syndrome" and Irlen syndrome. I am looking for empirically-based recommendations about the diagnosis and treatment of visual sensitivity particularly associated with computer use.

My suspicion is that neither of these diagnoses exist and are excuses to sell products. I have seen no peer-reviewed documentation of the diagnosis and treatment. Certainly colored lenses will do no harm but I believe they are very unlikely to help. My concern is that the child may be suffering from another eye disorder such as refractive error, strabismus or something else. Also, learning issues as well as psychosocial issues can cause these types of symptoms. I also would guess that this diagnosis was not made by an ophthalmologist. As the school psychologist I would tell the parents that you are not sure about this diagnosis and that their child should see an ophthalmologist with a specific interest in pediatric ophthalmology.

Answered by: Gary Hirshfield, MDDr. Gary Hirshfield

Categories: Eye ConditionsChildren's Eye Health

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Answered: Apr 16, 2013

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