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What Does ISAW Mean? I See With My Brain.

Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week, affectionately known as ISAW, begins on October 19, 2015. This worldwide awareness effort hopes to bring global attention to the current lack of proper identification of this easily addressed condition. When successfully identified, Irlen Syndrome is easily addressed and corrected through available interventions; however, only a fraction of individuals who suffer from this condition are properly assessed. Instead, the majority are either misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as ADHD and dyslexia, or simply continue to suffer in silence throughout their lifetime.

ISAW 2015 is a grassroots effort. It requires the involvement by every person affected by Irlen Syndrome, every family, every friend. It asks every educator and every allied health professional to be willing to know the symptoms and to keep an eye out for children and adults who might be at risk. Irlen Syndrome is still in the closet. People have never heard of it, don’t think they know anyone who suffers from it, and aren’t aware there is a way to address it.

The acronym, ISAW, has several very relevant and distinct meanings:

  • It stands for Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week
  • It alludes to the fact that Irlen Syndrome can affect what people see on the printed page and in the environment
  • It encourages people to be aware of the symptoms, to acknowledge the prevalence of the condition in their communities, and to see Irlen Syndrome around them

In a purposeful display of irony, ISAW also tries to bring to light the difference between vision and sight. Most people know that if there is a problem with the eyes, it can affect visual acuity, or how clearly you can see. But what many people forget is that the brain, not just the eyes, have a hand in what we see as well. This is vision. The brain is at the end of the visual pathway, and it is the place where signals from visual stimuli are interpreted. What we ultimately “see” is up to our brain, not our eyes. Our eyes are the initial receptor for visual information, but our brain is the final melting pot for that information. If the brain isn’t functioning correctly, we won’t see things accurately. So, the mantra of the individual with Irlen Syndrome should be “I SAW with my brain, not with my eyes.”

ISAW 2015 will be full of outreach efforts around the world that celebrate this message, and with it they will draw attention to key symptoms of Irlen Syndrome and its prevalence within different populations.  Everyone can make a difference in this awareness effort. All you have to do is know the symptoms and tell a friend.


World Leaders Speak At the International Irlen Conference

conference logo

Every two years, the International Irlen Conference brings together world leaders in the fields of Irlen Syndrome, neuroscience, ophthalmology, education, and psychology. Meet this year’s keynote speakers:





Marcia Reis Guimaraes, MD, PhD, is an ophthalmologist and eye pathologist with an educational background in molecular biology and basic sciences. She is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Embryology and Pathology at the Universidade de Sao Paulo and Universidade Pitagoras and invited professor of several universities throughout Brazil. She is Clinical Director of the Hospital de Olhos de Minas Gerais in Brazil. Dr. Guimaraes is also Director of the Irlen Clinic in Belo Horizonte, which is located in the Hospital de Olhos. She serves as Research Clinical Professor at the Federal University of Mina Gerais-LPAN (Laboratory Advance Research in clinically Applied Neurovisual Sciences).



Ricardo Guimaraes, MD, PhD, is a board certified ophthalmologist and founder and Director of the Hospital de Olhos in Minas Garais Brazil, the largest individual private eye clinics in Brazil. Dr. Guimaraes is also Assistant Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) and Director of the International Club of Surgery. He serves as President of the Brazilian Society of Refractive Surgery and maintains professional memberships in the Brazilian Society of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the International Society of Refractive Surgery. He serves on a number of editorial boards, including Highlights of Ophthalmology and Medical Editor for Ocular Surgery News for Latin America, and is currently serving as Honorary Consul of Canada in Minas Gerais, Medical Editor of Ocular Surgery New for Latin America, member of the board of the council of Health School – Universidade Pitagoras, Brazilian Institute of Marketing Economy (IBMEC), and Fundação da Associação Comercial de Minas Gerais and American Chamber of Commerce.



Jeffrey David Lewine, PhD, is Professor of Translational Neuroscience and Director of Business Development at the Mind Research Network, affiliated with the University of New Mexico. Dr. Lewine’s research uses behavioral and brain imaging methods including magnetoencephalography [MEG], electroencephalography [EEG], magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], and single photon emission computed tomography [SPECT]) to study brain structure and function. He has performed research on a wide range of clinical conditions including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, dyslexia, epilepsy, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. These investigations have been funded, in part, by Cure Autism Now, Johnson & Johnson, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, McDonnell-Pew Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders, Orasi Medical, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Lewine has previously directed functional brain imaging programs in New Mexico, Utah, Kansas and Illinois. He is a member of the College of Scientific Reviewers for the National Institutes of Health and a member of the executive boards for the American Clinical Magnetoencephalography Society and the International Society for the Advancement of Clinical MEG. Dr. Lewine is the co-author of a textbook on functional brain imaging and he has co-authored more than 100 articles and book chapters.



Helen L. Irlen, MA, BCPC, LMFT, is a pioneer and global leader in the area of visual processing problems and an internationally recognized educator, researcher, and scholar. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Irlen Institute, which has over 138 affiliated Irlen Centers worldwide. Her method for treating visual processing deficits is used in over 45 countries. She is the author of Reading by the Colors and The Irlen Revolution: A Guide to Changing Your Perception and Your Life. Her newest book is Sports Concussions and Getting Back in the Game…of Life.


For more information about the Irlen International Conference, visit the conference website: IIC 2015

New Year. New Name. Renewed Mission

The start of 2015 meant big things for the Irlen Syndrome Foundation. We opened the year with both a new name (we are also known as the Learning Research Association) and a new website. This new website is part of our renewed and expanded mission statement. While the organization has a long history of providing financial assistance to individuals in need of Irlen services, until now, it has not been an active educational body, providing the community with necessary information and resources to better understand and address individuals with Irlen Syndrome. We are proud of this mission, and we hope you’ll enjoy embarking on this adventure with us to raise awareness of Irlen Syndrome, so that no individual may go unidentified, unfairly treated, or unaccepted.

The Irlen Syndrome Foundation is supported by a talented group of individuals who are highly motivated to change the world’s perception of Irlen Syndrome and people who face this challenge. We seek to support parents in their quests to advocate for their children, to educate the public and professionals about the Syndrome and what they can do to make a difference, and to drive change – a change in policies, practices, and perceptions, so that individuals with Irlen Syndrome can have access to available and successful solutions.

On our new website, you’ll find a variety of resources, including downloadable toolkits designed for parents and educators, access to self-tests and research, and links to useful sources of information and support. We invite you to explore our new site and let us know what you think. We hope you help us make a difference in the lives of children and adults with Irlen Syndrome.