Reading difficulties, Dyslexia and Visual Stress

Some people struggle with reading. An eye examination could reveal:

  • Focussing problems; long sight, short sight or astigmatism, which can be all, or part of the problem
  • Eye co-ordination problems which can contribute to reading difficulty.

It is often the case that prescription spectacles or contact lenses are all that is required.

Some people complain that reading, or just looking at text, is uncomfortable. Words move on the page or run into each other, or there are disconcerting patterns within the text. This is termed “Visual Stress” sometimes called Meares-Irlen Syndrome.

For simulations of visual stress see: www.opticalm.ca

Visual stress occurs in both dyslexic and non dyslexic individuals. Some reports estimate up to 10% of population have a degree of visual stress. It is more common in dyslexics. Scientific research has shown that using coloured filters can reduce 'visual stress' and make reading easier.

We use a variety of tests to identity sufferers of visual stress, see if tints will help, fine tune the tint and provide tinted overlays or spectacles with precision tinted lenses.

Pattern Glare Test

The pattern glare test is a simple but effective screening test to identify who has visual stress and would benefit from further tests. It involves looking at a series of black and white patterns to see if visual distortion is present and to what degree.

Overlay Assessment

This is the simplest way to see if colour will help, and what is the optimum colour. This test can be performed by young children. A coloured plastic sheet can be provided to use when reading from paper. Sometimes this is sufficient to overcome problems learning to read and it is only needed temporarily. Some schools have staff able to do overlay assessments.

Colorimetry Assessment

Colorimetry is carried out for adults, older children, and the younger children who show sustained benefit from overlays. The patient looks at text in the Intuitive Colorimeter illuminated by light passed through special filters which are adjusted to find the best colour to minimise reported visual stress. The saturation and hue are adjusted independently giving several thousand different colour combinations. The chosen colour is made into unique precision tinted lenses incorporating any spectacle correction if needed.

Precision Tinted lenses can also help some people suffering from migraines, brain injury or epilepsy.

If you think you, or your child, may have visual stress please contact McGregor Opticians. Tell the receptionist you want to book a colorimetry assessment with Andy. A recent sight test is normally required before colorimetry, not necessarily on the same day. (children under 16 or 19 in education are entitled to a NHS funded sight test).

Colorimetry assessment is not funded by the NHS. The tests take about an hour and costs £45

More information can be found at these links: