Vision and Learning

Using Colour to alleviate Visual Stress

Visual Stress is a term used to describe visual discomfort which often manifests as difficulty focusing on text, either written or printed and which can result in headaches and a dislike of reading.


Dyslexia or Visual Stress

We should be clear, visual stress is not the same as dyslexia and not all people with visual stress are dyslexic, as not all dyslexics suffer from visual stress, however the two are closely linked. Certainly, children and adults with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism, can benefit hugely from a diagnosis of visual stress. Treatment for visual stress make it possible to alleviate some of the problems which can make reading and deciphering text harder for children with these conditions.

Visual stress can be associated with headaches and migraines, but it isn’t as clear cut as simple eyestrain from overuse of the eyes in close work or poor light. The causes of visual stress appear to be rooted much deeper in the brain, and current research suggests it appears to stem from the brain’s reaction (or over reaction) to certain forms of light and colour.

Common Signs of Visual Stress

  • Movement of the printed text
  • Tiring easily whilst reading
  • Headaches or visual discomfort
  • Using finger as a marker on the page
  • Frustration and low self-esteem
  • Migraine

Coloured Overlay Tests

At Visual Eyes Opticans we offer a simple test to diagnose visual stress, using coloured overlays to assess whether text is clearer and easier to read when a colour is applied to the page. These overlays are widely used in schools and can be very beneficial for dyslexic children and adults in increasing reading speed and accuracy.

The overlays are coloured sheets of robust transparent plastic that can be placed over a page of text when reading. The assessment pack consists of 12 overlays of different colours, which is sufficient to provide the optimal shade for each individual. During the assessment each overlay is placed on the text in turn and used for comparison with others placed beside it. At Visual Eyes Opticans, the assessment can be carried out by our specialised vision professional.

Precision Lenses

Once we’ve established that a coloured overlay is beneficial, it can be an indication that Precision Tinted Lenses could also be helpful. These lenses are tailored to the individual – each person will have their own very specific tint which is most suitable – inorder to prescribe these, at Visual Eyes Opticans, we use a specialist piece of equipment called a Colorimeter to assess which exact hue and density will be of the most benefit to an individual.

At Visual Eyes Opticans, an examination with the Colorimeter lasts about 20 minutes and enables the effects of hue, saturation and brightness to be assessed. With the help of proprietary software, tinted trial lenses are then used to review the clinical benefits of the chosen colour under conventional lighting. The tint is precisely tailored to an individual’s needs from one hundred thousand colour combinations. The prescribed tint is then reproduced precisely in specially designed laboratories.

What Should I Do?

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be suffering from undiagnosed visual stress or you have other vision problems you’d like us to explore please click here to make an appointment or call us on 020 8905 0700.