What is Visual Stress?
Simply explained, Visual Stress (Meares-Irlen syndrome) is a sensitivity to visual patterns, particularly stripes. In some individuals this condition can cause visual perception problems which interfere with reading. The symptoms can occur despite normal vision.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF VISUAL STRESS
All or some of the following symptoms may be present:
- Movement of the printed text
- Blurring of print
- Letters changing size or shape
- Patterns in the print (sometimes described as rivers or worms)
- Halos of colour surrounding letters or words
- Tiring easily whilst reading
- Headaches or visual discomfort
- Red, sore, watery eyes
The Signs of Visual Stress
- Moves closer to or further away from the book
- Moves book around on the desk
- Fidgets continuously
- Using finger as a marker on the page
- Skips words or lines
- Frequently re-reads the same line
- Rubes eyes or blinks frequently when reading
- Poor comprehension of reading content
- Frustration and low self-esteem
Frustration and low self esteem can occur in children who are underachieving due to visual stress. Early diagnosis of the problem is essential. The longer it takes to identify and remedy visual stress, the greater the loss of confidence that can result.
Is this Dyslexia?
‘Dyslexia’ is a term used to refer to reading problems that are not due to poor teaching. Dyslexia is often associated with spelling difficulty.
Visual stress is NOT the same as dyslexia but is more common in those that are dyslexic. People who fail to read because of visual stress are frequently mis-diagnosed as dyslexic. For this reason, it is important that the existence of visual stress is identified at an early stage. Once the visual stress has been treated, the remaining problems are more easily dealt with.
Assessments and a Solution for Reading Difficulties and Visual Stress
Visual stress can be reduced by the use of coloured filters: a coloured overlay placed over text or coloured lenses worn in spectacles. The reduction occurs only when the colour is selected to suit the individual. The selection of lenses is best undertaken with the aid of the Intuitive Colorimeter.