Colorimetry and Visual Stress Services
Treatment of visual stress for dyslexia and specific learning difficulties, migraine and epilepsy
What is Visual Stress?
Visual Stress, is a light sensitive condition that contributes to visual perceptual problems, impairs reading and can also be the cause of headaches, feelings of nausea or tiredness when reading. This underlying photosensitive syndrome is also frequently involved in various neurological disorders that affect the visual cortex of the brain such as migraine, photosensitive epilepsy, autism, multiple sclerosis, head injury and stroke. This condition is also referred to as Meares Irlen Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome.
People who suffer from this condition often find difficulty focusing on closely designed patterns, such as stripes or multi-patterns for instance. They may also suffer from problems of glare and feel uncomfortable in bright daylight or sunlight or under fluorescent lighting conditions.
Although present in 20 percent of the population to some extent, visual stress may not be recognised as a serious hindrance until it comes to coping with small repetitive black print on a white background, or with a volume of reading.
Scientific research has proven that visual stress can be reduced by prescribing precise coloured filters when reading or using a computer. Importantly, these filters have been shown to modify the way in which the brain processes visual information thereby reducing symptoms.
Many people who suffer from visual stress are often unaware that they see the page differently from others, until someone applies an appropriate coloured overlay or prescribed precision tinted lenses, when they often exclaim how words stop moving and how the page appears clear and still.
Some people do not recognise the severity of the problem, until it comes to a volume of reading at exam times for instance, when the inability to focus for a long period of time without becoming tied or suffering perceptual difficulties, suddenly arises.
Visual stress is known to cause a range of signs and symptoms such as:
- Skipping lines or words, and losing place easily when reading
- Difficulty tracking across the page; work is poorly laid out
- Words appear to move around on the page
- The page appears very bright
- Discomfort when reading from computer screens
- Difficulty copying text from the board
Eyesite Eyecare Centres have a range of assessments, designed to accurately identify the type of coloured filter that is required on an individual basis. This includes the use of an Intuitive Colorimeter which has been designed by Arnold Wilkins for the Medical Research Council in the early 1990s, allowing for the optimum coloured lens to be identified and then made up into spectacles. The Intuitive Colorimeter is now used in clinics by hundreds of optometrists, opticians and orthoptists and by many universities, in the UK and world-wide.
Since the launch of the Intuitive Colorimeter in the early 1990's, over 150,000 pairs of precision tinted lenses prescribed by vision practitioners throughout the UK and world-wide.
Experts urge "the need for people suspected of suffering from Visual Stress, to be tested by qualified vision practitioners who specialise in vision and learning. Whilst coloured lenses are not a miracle cure for dyslexia, prescribed appropriately, they will help many children, even those who still need specialist teaching".
To achieve the optimum results, it is important that the selected coloured overlay is not replicated as lenses, particularly without the input of a trained colorimeter practitioner. Research has established that it is very unlikely that the ultimate optimum lenses will be that of the chosen overlay.
It is essential that the lenses are individually prescribed. The colour requirements differ significantly between individuals. Any deviation from the optimum colour, in some cases by only a degree, may prevent achievement of the optimum improvements in both reading speed and accuracy.
Tinted Lenses and Overlays
Commenting on the service, Optometrist and Fellow of the International Institute of Colorimetry, Ian Beasley from Eyesite Eyecare Centres says: ‘Visual stress can be a major part of the problem in people with reading difficulties, including Dyslexia. This can cause eyestrain, headaches and result in academic under-achievement. Once visual stress has been identified and treated, remaining difficulties become easier to deal with.’
If you feel you would benefit from this service book your eye examination at an Eyesite Eyecare Centre near you, today!