Visual Stress & Colorimetry

Visual stress (also known as Meares-Irlen syndrome) is a sensitivity to visual patterns and is estimated to affect approximately 20% of the population. It is thought that these patterns, including those from text, can cause a hyper-activation of the visual part of the brain. This interferes with reading, but can be reduced by precise individual colour.

Our Optometrists have expertise in diagnosing and prescribing aids to assist with visual stress for both children and adults alike.

Signs of visual stress can include: movement of printed text; blurring of print; letters changing shape or size; patterns in the print; halos of colour surrounding letters words; tiring easily whilst reading; headaches or visual discomfort; using a finger as a marker on the page; skipping words or lines; re-reading the same line; rubbing eyes/blinking frequently when reading; poor comprehension of reading content; fidgeting continuously; frustration; and low self-esteem. 

Visual stress can be reduced by the use of coloured filters: either a coloured overlay placed over text or precision tinted lenses worn in spectacles.

The reduction occurs only when the colour is selected to suit the individual. The selection of lenses is undertaken with the aid of the intuitive colorimeter. Appropriately tinted lenses frequently result in reading that is more fluent and comfortable. Those patients with diagnosed or suspected specific learning difficulty may find the use of precision tinted lenses or coloured overlays particularly helpful.

Step 1: Eye Examination

A full eye examination is recommended as the first step in diagnosing and aiding visual stress. An up-to-date examination allows your Optometrist to establish if there are any refractive errors or health problems with your eyes which may be affecting vision. If you’re under the age of 19 then your eye examination may be eligible to be funded by the NHS.

Step 2: Overlay and Binocular Vision Assessment

Following an up-to-date eye examination, a more extensive assessment of the way the eyes function together can be carried out and any underlying issues addressed. Your Optometrist may suggest using an overlay and then returning within a few weeks, noting any improvements that result. Alternatively, in cases where the benefit from the overlay is clear immediately, the Optometrist may suggest moving directly to Colorimetry.

Step 3: Colorimetry

If overlays are beneficial, a Colorimetry examination can determine the exact colour (both shade and intensity) of lenses needed to reduce your visual stress. This colour will be more specific to your individual’s needs than that found in an overlay and is often even a different colour altogether. The precision tinted lenses can then be added to your choice of spectacles to give you a great combination of comfort and convenience.

Is this Dyslexia?

‘Dyslexia’ is a term used to refer to reading problems that are not due to poor teaching. Dyslexia is often associated with spelling difficulty.

Visual Stress is not the same as dyslexia but can run concurrently with Dyslexia. People who fail to read because of visual stress are frequently mis-diagnosed as dyslexic. For this reason, it is important that the existence of visual stress is identified at an early stage. Once the visual stress has been treated, the remaining problems are more easily dealt with.

Visual stress can occur in non-dyslexic individuals. Symptoms may become more apparent when intensive reading is necessary as when studying for exams.

Visual Stress & Photosensitive Migraine

Migraine attacks have many triggers, including stress, particular foods, and hormones. About 40% of migraine attacks may be visually-induced by flickering light, patterns or reading. These attacks may be helped by precision tinted lenses.

Think colour may help your eyes?

Arrange your visual stress consultation with Brownbills toda

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