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Does you child struggle with their reading? Learn more about the links to visual stress and dyslexia.

visual stress

Here at Alexander Bain and Murray Opticians and Hearing, we can carry out some specialised examinations for those people who suffer with visual stress.

Intuitive Coloured Overlays for Visual Stress

What is Visual Stress?

Although it will vary from person to person, visual stress can be assumed to include any of the following symptoms when attempting to read: 

  • Colours or patterns appearing within the text, blurring letters, letters changing size/shape, print moving, letters fading in contrast and occasionally headaches and light sensitivity.

Children will often lose their position when reading or will try to use their fingers to track along the words, especially when moving to the next line.

There are various hypotheses for what are the main causes and how it might be alleviated. Recent studies suggest the striped layout of reading text causes over-stimulation at the visual cortex of the brain. This in turn disrupts how the eyes perceive the text. Think, for example, of how a stripy jumper or pattern can make some peoples eyes ‘go funny’, this is a form of visual stress.


Why Colour Overlays?

It is thought that the coloured sheets may help in altering the cortical activity in the brains visual cortex. This then allows the patient to navigate through the reading text more easily.  The assessment itself is a series of reading tests with different colours used to determine both reading speed and fluency.

How can we at Alexander Bain and Murray help?

Following an assessment with one of our highly trained optometrist team, we can offer advice on what, if any, colours might help alleviate the patients’ symptoms. The resulting colour required is precise and individual to each patient.

These colours can be used in the form of overlay sheets in A4 and A5 sizes or in reading rulers which can be easier managed in a school environment.

visual stress

Dyslexia and Visual Stress

The Rose report defined dyslexia as learning difficulty issues in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed.

Visual stress is not the same as dyslexia. It can occur in people without dyslexia and these people will benefit equally well from using colour overlays as those with visual stress linked to dyslexia.

Visual stress can contribute to a dyslexic persons’ issues but it is not a cause. Therefore, using colour overlays to help with reading is not a method to treat dyslexia, it can merely help ease the symptoms when reading.

There are no age limits to assessing reading speeds and assessing those who may have Visual Stress. However, it is more common in children.

Some children may be able to describe to their parents or guardians the issues they are having whilst others may not be comfortable discussing it. Some may feel like it’s not that important or that it is something everybody sees and so they won’t mention their difficulties.

Parents and teachers can look out for signs such as:

  • skipping words or lines,
  • finger tracking,
  • losing their place repeatedly,
  • excessive eye rubbing,
  • leaning away from the page,
  • poor attention span,
  • refusing to read altogether.

If you feel your child, or someone you know, would benefit from an Intuitive Colour Overlay Reading Assessment, please contact any of our practices to arrange an appointment.  Appointments usually last approximately 40 minutes.


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