This is a condition which is also known as “Mears-Irlen” syndrome.
Visual Stress refers to reading difficulties, light sensitivity and headaches from exposure to disturbing visual patterns. It can be responsible for print distortion and rapid fatigue when reading. The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person.
The symptoms can occur despite normal vision.
Approximately 5% of the population are severely affected by Visual Stress and 20% to a lesser degree.
- movement of print
- blurring of print
- letters changing shape or size
- letters fading or becoming darker
- patterns appearing, sometimes describes as “worms” or “rivers” running through print
- illusions of colour – blobs of colour on the page or colours surrounding letters or words
- rapid tiring
- headache or eyestrain
- moving closer to or away from page
- becoming restless
- using finger as a marker
- skipping words and lines
- rubbing eyes and blinking excessively
- low self esteem
When we look at someone wearing a very stripy shirt it may feel uncomfortable for us to look at and it may “make our eyes go funny”. This effect can be seen by many individuals who look at print as this is often a “stripy pattern”.
Symptoms of visual stress are not always immediately obvious. Many individuals who suffer with this condition believe the discomfort they feel when reading or the distortions they experience on the page are “normal” and experienced by everyone. That is until someone presents them with an appropriate colour and they realise that reading can become more comfortable and even enjoyable.
The simple application of an overlay at an early stage could save years of anxiety and prevent the downward slide in confidence which occurs in most cases where children struggle to read.
Dyslexia is a term used to describe various specific learning difficulties that affect the ability to learn to read and spell correctly. Visual Stress is NOT Dyslexia but can be particularly prevalent in Dyslexic individuals. If Visual Stress is identified and colour is used to alleviative come of the symptoms then other learning difficulties such as Dyslexia are easier to cope with.
Many people with Dyslexia may also suffer with 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 still suffer with these symptoms. The appropriate coloured overlay or Precision Tinted Lenses can also help this group of individuals.
It is therefore important that overlays should not be reserved only for those pupils who have been “statemented” or identified as being in need of specific help. They should be available to any child who does not naturally like to look at books.