Visual Stress Assessment
What is Visual Stress?
It's not unusual for children and adults to suffer from visual discomfort when they are reading. It is estimated that approximately 5% of the population is affected quite severely by visual stress and 20% to a lesser degree.
Visual stress can affect reading fluency, comprehension and concentration and can cause fatigue. The symptoms of visual stress may cause a feeling that the print is moving, or that there appear to be rivers running through the print as well as headaches or eyestrain.
Is visual stress the same as Dyslexia?
Visual stress can be attributed to a number of conditions including dyslexia. However, visual stress is not the same thing as dyslexia. Dyslexia is a term used to describe various specific learning difficulties that can affect the ability to learn to read and spell correctly. Visual stress can be particularly prevalent in Dyslexic individuals. If Visual stress is identified, colour can be used to alleviative some of the symptoms, then other learning difficulties such as Dyslexia are easier to cope with.
Many people with Dyslexia may also suffer from visual stress and can, therefore, be helped by colour. Equally, there are a large percentage
of children and indeed adults who are not identified as being dyslexic but can still suffer from these symptoms. The appropriate coloured overlay can also help this group of individuals.
What are coloured overlays?
Sheets of transparent coloured plastic, to be placed over the
required text. Used as a screening tool to determine if colour will be
of benefit to each client. They can alleviate some of the visual stress,
making reading more comfortable. Each client assessed will benefit
from a different colour. To assess the benefit of the chosen colour
an assessment will be carried out in practice, usually by our
What if overlays are helpful?
If the client continues to use the overlay, unprompted, or they report
an improvement it has most likely been beneficial. The overlay is
usually given as a trial period for approximately 6 weeks to rule out
Precision tinted lenses
The symptoms of Visual Stress can be reduced using coloured filters, such as coloured overlays placed over text, or if these prove inconvenient precision tinted lenses worn in spectacles.
Precision tinted lenses have also been shown to make a significant difference to the quality of life for Migraine sufferers. Symptoms of some other neurological conditions such as Autism and MS may also appear to be reduced with the application of a precision tint.
If you think you or your child has visual stress or that you may benefit from Precision tinted lenses there is a screening test available: providing detailed visual assessment and expert advice and treatment for difficulty with reading or visual stress. Assessments are available for children and adults.
What is involved in the assessment?
1) A full eye examination with one of our optometrists
Our optometrist will carry out a series of tests to check for any visual
or eye health problems. These tests help to rule out any other
causes of symptoms such as needing spectacles, or a binocular vision
(eye muscle) problem. Our optometrist will also look at the eye in
detail to make sure it is healthy. This part is essential even if a recent
eye examination has been carried out elsewhere as it contains tests that may have not been performed as part of the standard eye examination.
2) An overlay assessment. This appointment is usually carried out by a dispensing optician. We
have a range of overlays (coloured perspex sheets) to try. Each sheet is tried in turn to determine which gives the most comfortable and effective rate of reading. We measure the reading speed with and without the overlays in place to see if any benefit is obtained.
3) Cycloplegic examination At the end of this appointment cycloplegic drops are often instilled
into the client’s eyes, particularly in children and young adults. These drops relax the accommodation and take about thirty minutes to work. Vision will be blurred for a few hours after the examination.
Will I need glasses?
Following the eye test, the client may be prescribed with spectacles or an overlay. In this case there will usually be another appointment arranged for six weeks time to see if there has been any improvement.
A Little Caveat
We would like to make it clear that successful treatment of visual stress IS NOT a cure for dyslexia or any learning difficulty. Reading through colour is just a start to relieve a symptom and a tool to help a client cope with their condition.
If you would like an information pack, or to book an assessment call the team at Allegro Optical on 01484 907090 or call into Allegro Optical, 1-3 Station Street, Meltham, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, HD9 5NX