Simply explained, Visual Stress is a sensitivity to visual patterns, particularly stripes where when reading written text sufferers can experience eye strain, difficulty in focussing, headaches and illusions of colour and movement. The symptoms can occur despite normal vision. It may also be referred to as Meares-Irlen Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome. Symptoms can vary but common problems include:
- Movement of printed text
- Blurring of print
- Letters changing size
- Patterns or lights appearing in print
- Losing your place when reading lines of text
- Using finger as a marker on the page
- Skips words or lines when reading
- Frequently re-reads the same line
Any child or adult who experiences problems with reading should have a visual stress consultation consisting of a the following 3 steps
Anyone who displays problems with reading will initially be given a full eye examination. If glasses are required these can eventually incorporate coloured lenses for visual stress if necessary.
Following the eye examination, your optometrist may recommend an assessment with coloured overlays. These sheets of thin, transparent plastic are placed over written text to change the colour of the background to see if there are any benefits.
Coloured overlays have been shown to increase reading fluency in about 20% of the general population.
In 5% of the general population the increase in reading speed with overlays is greater than 25%.
Referral for Colourimetry Assessment
If overlays are beneficial, your optometrist may suggest Colorimetry as the next stage. This may result in the prescribing of glasses with coloured lenses.
Visual Stress and Dyslexia
Visual Stress is NOT the same as dyslexia but is more common in those with dyslexia with the prevalence of visual stress being 2-3x higher in dyslexic people.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above or wish to know more regarding visual stress please call us on 0131 629 1120.