Visual Stress Assessments
Visual stress, also known as Myers-Irlen Syndrome, can affect both children and adults. The term describes discomfort and distortions experienced when looking at printed text. Although this can be unpleasant, there are things that can be done to help.
What is visual stress?
Visual stress is sometimes linked to dyslexia but not everyone who is affected by visual stress has dyslexia. It can affect people of any age, and both people with reading difficulties and those who read well can experience it.
Recent studies show that visual stress may be caused by the visual cortex in the brain becoming hyper-excited. Sensitivity to bright light (photophobia) and migraine can also be linked to the problem.
Symptoms of visual stress
Visual stress affects people differently but some symptoms can include:
- Words appearing to move on the page when reading
- Patterns appearing in printed text
- Letters or words seeming to blur
- Needing to use a finger to follow lines of text
- Missing out words or lines when reading
- Headaches, visual discomfort and migraine
- Feeling tired or frustrated
These symptoms can make school or work difficult, leading to stress and anxiety. Having an assessment and finding help in the form of coloured overlays can provide great relief.
A visual stress assessment is usually carried out after a full eye examination. It is important to check for any possible problems with eye coordination, binocular vision, and underlying eye conditions before moving on to the visual stress assessment. Eye exercises or glasses may be able to help with reading problems.
The visual stress assessment takes around 15 minutes and uses the digital ReadEZ System. The patient’s rate of reading is calculated and different colours and tints are introduced to determine if a certain colour is more helpful. We will then discuss the options available for treatment.
Treatment and management
Our ReadEZ system can help to provide various options for reducing the effects of visual stress. These all involve the colour identified during the assessment. Coloured overlays can be placed over text to help with reading and coloured clip-on attachments can be used with devices. For PCs, virtual overlay software is available. Colour-tinted lenses for glasses are another option that can be helpful.
After the visual stress assessment, we’ll talk you through the treatment options, put together a plan and help you decide which items will be most helpful and suited to your lifestyle, work or school.
Book a visual stress assessment
If you think you or a family member may be experiencing visual stress, contact us to arrange an eye exam and assessment. The assessment can be altered to suit children as young as 3, and catching the problem early can help them with school and learning.