A STUDENT from Penarth is hoping to raise awareness around a condition that leaves her struggling to study at home and suffering from multiple debilitating headaches. 

25-year-old Hannah Miller, who is currently doing a top-up degree in animal health and welfare based at Coleg Gwent, was diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome after previously being wrongly diagnosed with having learning difficulties when she was younger.

“I was told I was lazy for not trying hard enough, when I was," she said.

"I was just struggling because of the condition. I felt like I was falling behind and failing at something that I should be good at, and it was hard work just to keep up."

The majority of lessons in school are taught using a whiteboard, something which Miss Miller says was of great difficulty for her due to the glare, as well as the lighting in the classroom.

After being correctly diagnosed at 17, she was given glasses with special lenses, called Irlen Spectral Filters, to wear all the time, that help with filtering out the type of light which upsets the visual cortex.

Penarth Times: Hannah Miller is a UK Irlen Syndrome AmbassadorHannah Miller is a UK Irlen Syndrome Ambassador

"With my filters, I feel great, calm and I do not have any headaches," she added. 

"This allows me to focus on my studies. I wish more could be done during lockdown to help others with Irlen Syndrome."

Studying from home, and having to use a laptop each day, can make her symptoms worse due to the brightness – even when it’s been decreased to its lowest level.

Visual stress - also known as Irlen Syndrome, Meares-Irlen Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome - is a condition that affects the way the brain processes visual information.

Despite the name, it is not a problem with the eyes. It is a problem that affects the way the brain processes visual information.

Irlen UK reports that between 12 and 15 per cent of the general population suffers from symptoms but many are not aware that they have a problem.


Visual stress can cause physical and behavioural problems that range from person to person.

Penarth Times: Hannah Miller at a previous Irlen conference with Alan Penn, her Irlen diagnostician and Helen Irlen of the Irlen InstituteHannah Miller at a previous Irlen conference with Alan Penn, her Irlen diagnostician and Helen Irlen of the Irlen Institute

Miss Miller would like to see students who have got conditions where they need extra support still having this during the coronavirus lockdown - such as having extra time for exams, and presentations given on coloured backgrounds.

“It’s really affected me," she added. 

"Doing coursework is a nightmare for me because I end up having symptoms and concentrating is just so hard.

“It gets on top of you and I end up sitting in the dark because of my headaches.

“It’s been really hard for me to live a normal life."

However, depsite the ongoing struggles, she says that taking her dogs for walks helps her to escape for a bit. 

Hundreds of Irlen Syndrome sufferers in the UK have had to postpone their annual tinting assessments due to the lockdown restrictions - with miss Miller being one of them.

The delays in the assessments have resulted in Irlen Syndrome sufferers having to cope with painful and debilitating symptoms, such as anxiety, severe migraines, nausea, inability to read for sustained periods of time, fatigue, dizziness, which would have otherwise been controlled and eliminated.

In the UK, Irlen Syndrome remains vastly undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as dyslexia or other conditions.