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Irlen Syndrome and Vision Problems in People With CFS/ME

  [ 56 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • May 4, 2013

Editor's Comment: This interesting piece of research was presented at the 7th Annual Irlen Conference. Irlen Syndrome (IS), also known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS), is a visual processing problem in which letters and words appear to move on the page, or grow in size. Those with Irlen Syndrome also experience photophobia, blurring and shadowing of vision, headaches, eye strain, decreased span of recognition of words while reading, and difficulty tracking lines of print. The syndrome is unquestionably neurological. Recognizing the overlap in visual symptoms, the researchers tested patients with IS for biochemical abnormalities and compared them with a group of patients with CFS/ME. The researchers discovered a complex array of biochemical changes associated with vision difficulties in both the CFS/ME and IS subjects, with considerable overlap between the two. While the researchers observed that these biochemical changes were consistent with a viral etiology and ongoing immune activation, they concluded that the net result of these changes was an alteration in fatty acid metabolism, which would directly affect vision as well as neurological processing. (DHA, an essential fatty acid, is the principal component of both gray matter in the brain and the optic nerve.) Supplementation with essential fatty acids was recommended.

A biochemical analysis of people with chronic fatigue who have Irlen Syndrome: speculation concerning immune system dysfunction.

By GL Robinson  


This study investigated the biological basis of visual processing disabilities in adults with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The study involved 61 adults with symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome who were screened for visual processing problems (Irlen Syndrome) and divided into two groups according to the severity of symptoms of Irlen Syndrome. Significant variations were identified in blood lipids and urine amino and organic acids of the two groups, which may be indicative of activation of the immune system due to some infective agent. It was suggested that metabolic profiling may help the development of more valid diagnostic categories and allow more investigation of immune system dysfunction as a possible causal factor in a range of learning and behaviour disorders.

Source: Percept Mot Skills. 2001 Oct;93(2):486-504. Robinson GL, McGregor NR, Roberts TK, Dunstan RH, Butt H. Special Education Centre, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia.

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