Visual Stress & Colourimetry

What is visual stress?
Visual Stress (also referred to as Meares-Irlen Syndrome and Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome) is a perceptual processing disorder and describes the unpleasant visual symptoms experienced when reading, especially over extended periods of time. Visual stress makes reading and writing an unpleasant and irritating tasks that children will aim to avoid as a result. Sufferers tend to be hypersensitive to fluorescent lighting and flicker on computer monitors. They can sometimes be other neurological associations such as autism, epilepsy and other conditions which affect learning.

Is Visual Stress the same as Dyslexia and Migraine?
Dyslexia is a term used to refer to a number of complex specific learning difficulties that often also include problems with reading and spelling. Visual Stress often runs concurrently with dyslexia, and it has been established that there is a far greater propensity amongst the dyslexic population to suffer from Visual Stress. Removal of Visual Stress in dyslexic children allows exposure to print for longer. Those who fail to read due to Visual Stress are often mis-diagnosed as dyslexic.

Migraine is a form of visual stress and is often associated with a sensitivity to glare, and some patients are photophobic during an attack. Glare sensitivity may occur in response to bright lights and bold geometric patterns, particularly those of stripes. Precision Tinted Lenses may reduce or prevent migraine attacks. More often they enable patients to continue their daily activities despite attacks, and to cope in uncomfortable environments.

What are the signs and symptoms of visual stress?

People with visual stress may experience one or several of the following:
• Letters or words that move when reading
• Blurred letters or words when reading
• Letters which present with back to front appearance
• Skipping words and lines or using finger as a marker
• Letters or words that change size
• Headaches or eyestrain
• Patterns or colours appearing in print
• Rubbing eyes and blinking excessively
• Patterns appearing, sometimes describes as “worms” or “rivers” running through print

Research suggests such symptoms occur in approximately 40% of poor readers and 20% of the general population, can occur at any age, and can be present in individuals with no history of other visual issues

How can we help?
As one of the few specialist centres in Visual Stress we can offer a personalised treatment plan which might include prescription spectacles, visual therapy for muscle imbalances, coloured overlays or bespoke individually tailored precision tinted spectacle lenses using a Cerium Intuitive Colorimeter.

The aim of any treatment is to help improve reading comfort, speed and fluency, to improve your child’s ability to recognise words quickly and to read longer passages of text in a smooth and efficient way so that good comprehension is maintained. This hopefully results in better school reports and exam grades and improves self esteem. We generally advise testing from 6 years and older. There is no upper age limit for adults.

How much does it cost?
This depends on the therapy provided. We run a specialist clinic all day once per month. Please contact us to be booked in and discuss what you require. The clinic is run by paediatric specialists Dr Nadia Northway (, Dr Roisin Mackie and Dr Scott Mackie.