Visual Stress and Colourimetry

About Visual Stress

Visual stress (sometimes called 'Meares-Irlen Syndrome' or 'Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome') generally reveals itself in the form of unpleasant visual symptoms when reading or close work, especially when done so for prolonged time.

Symptoms of Visual Stress can include:

  • Movement/'jumping' or blurring of print
  • Letters changing shape or size or fading or becoming dark
  • Patterns appearing, sometimes describes as "worms" or "rivers" running through print
  • Illusions of colour - blobs of colour on the page or colours surrounding letters or words
  • Rapid tiring
  • Headache or eyestrain

Signs of Visual Stress can include:

  • Moving closer to or away from page
  • Becoming restless
  • Using finger as a marker
  • Skipping words and lines
  • Rubbing eyes and blinking excessively
  • Low self esteem or struggling with or avoiding reading.

Symptoms of visual stress are not always immediately obvious. Many individuals who suffer with this condition believe the discomfort they feel when reading or the distortions they experience on the page are "normal" and experienced by everyone. That is until someone presents them with an appropriate colour and they realise that reading can become more comfortable and even enjoyable.

The simple application of a coloured overlay at an early stage could save years of anxiety and prevent the downward slide in confidence which occurs in most cases where children struggle to read.

Visual Stress and Dyslexia

Visual Stress is not the same as Dyslexia, but it is more common in those who are dyslexic.

People who fail to read due to Visual Stress often are mis-diagnosed as Dyslexic and it is important that symptoms of visual stress are discovered early on. Many find that once visual stress has been treated, the remaining difficulties and problems are more easily dealt with.

Visual Stress does occur in non-dyslexic individuals, symptoms may become more apparent during intensive reading - such as studying exams.

Treating Visual Stress

There is plenty of evidence that shows that Coloured Overlays and Coloured Spectacles can increase the speed of reading. This improvement sometimes may only be apparent after 10 minutes of reading or more but is more immediate when reading closely spaced text.

A Coloured overlay is a transparent sheet of coloured plastic that can be placed over a page or a book so as to colour the text without affecting its clarity. This colour reduces the perceptual distortions of text that people sometimes describe. They enable some people to read more fluently, with less discomfort and fewer symptoms of visual stress.

If any of signs or symptoms of Visual Stress are present we would first recommend a full eye examination and overlay assessment. If an overlay is found to be helpful we would usually recommend trying it at home to ensure there is a continued benefit in your own environment.

If an overlay is beneficial the next step would be to book an Intuitive Colorimetry Test with our Dispensing Optician Beth. With our Intuitive Colourimeter we can determine the precise colour and shade for spectacle lenses. Precision tinted spectacles are often more convenient than overlays for board work and when using the computer and writing.

For more information please see Cerium's Website. This is the company we work with to provide solutions to those with Visual Stress.

For more information about our Coloured Overlay Assessments and Intuitive Colourimetry Tests Examinations or to book an appointment with us please call us on: