We recognise not all children enjoy reading books. Have you ever
wondered why? It could be Visual Stress and at Newsome Opticians
we can offer your child help.
Visual Stress is a condition that is also known as Meares-Irlan Syndrome and is responsible for
causing reading difficulties for people with otherwise normal vision, the symptoms include:-
- Movement of print
- Blurring of print
- Glare from white pages
- Letters fading or becoming darker
- Reduced spacing between letters and words
- Rapid tiring when reading
- Inability to follow print along a line
- Reduced comprehension and retention
- Headaches or eyestrain
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.
Approximately 5% of the population are severely affected by Visual Stress and 20% to a lesser degree.
Colour in the Treatment of Visual Stress
Pages of print can resemble a visually stressful pattern. Print can be very “stripy” and for a lot of people can be uncomfortable to look at. This can be similar to looking at a very stripy shirt for a prolonged time.
It is thought that this discomfort when looking at the print and hence the symptoms of Visual Stress in reading difficulties are due to a hyperexcitability of neurones in the Visual Cortex. This means that some of the cells in the part of the brain which deals with processing of visual information work too fast and do not respond in the way they should.
We know that certain cells in the Visual Cortex are colour sensitive and therefore by placing a colour in front of the eye; the pattern of excitation can be changed. In other words the colour will help to slow and calm these cells therefore quietening the pattern and reducing the Visual Stress.
The colour needed to reduce the hyperexcitability is very precise and individual to each person.
Overlays are coloured sheets of transparent plastic that are placed over a page of print to reduce the distortions caused by Visual Stress.
An overlay assessment takes about 30 minutes and looks at the effects of 12 different colours on the perception of a page of print and also on the rate of reading. One colour will always prove to be more beneficial than the others.
If there is continued use of the overlay for a period of approximately 6 weeks, and there is a significant improvement in reading, concentration, comprehension etc .. then the next step would be to have a full Colorimetry Assessment to determine a much more precise colour as described below.
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